UN: Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considers report of Japan 2014: Little progress made

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Hi Blog.  Two posts ago I talked about the UN’s most recent report on Japan’s human rights record (and how there seems to have been almost no progress made).  Well, also interesting is the public record of the give-and-take between UN officials and Japan’s mission to the UN.  That’s below.  It offers a glimpse of the mindsets of Japan’s representatives, and how they will defend Japan’s status quo no matter what.  The parts that are germane to Debito.org are bolded up, so have a read.  This is probably a glimpse as to what courses the GOJ will (not) take regarding human rights issues in future.

BTW,  If you want to see how much has not changed (these UN reviews happen every two years), get a load of what happened last time Japan faced the music in the UN regarding its human rights record, back in 2010.  The GOJ even claimed Japan was taking “every conceivable measure” to eliminate racial discrimination back in 2008 (yeah, except for an actual law against racial discrimination, unrequited since 1996!).  Debito.org’s archives and analysis go back even farther, so click here.  And when everyone by now realizes that Japan’s human-rights efforts are a joke (seriously, back in 2013), the Japanese representative will angrily shout to the audience, “Why are you laughing?  SHUT UP!  SHUT UP!”  This is not a joke.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considers report of Japan
UN OHCHR 21 August 2014, courtesy of LK
http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14957&LangID=E

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today completed its consideration of the combined seventh to ninth periodic report of Japan on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Presenting the report, Akira Kono, Ambassador to the United Nations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Japan was actively working on measures to establish a comprehensive policy to ensure the respect of the human rights of the Ainu people, focusing on the Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony. Refugee recognition procedures had been reformed, and Japan strictly practiced the principle of non-refoulement. A nationwide campaign called “Respect the rights of foreign nationals” sought to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against foreigners. In 2020 Japan would host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, and in the spirit of the Olympic Charter’s anti-discrimination principles, Japan continued to work to eliminate all forms of discrimination.

During the discussion, issues raised by Committee Experts included the prevalence of racist hate speech in Japan and the lack of anti-discrimination legislation, the situation of Ainu indigenous people and recognition of the people of Okinawa, and remedies for the victims of sexual slavery during World War II (so-called ‘comfort women’). The exploitation of foreign technical interns, the withdrawal of funding for Korean schools in Japan and reports of systematic surveillance of Muslims in Japan were other issues raised.

In concluding remarks Anwar Kemal, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for the report of Japan, said Japan had a democratic constitution and therefore should be able to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law. It should be able to tackle racist hate speech without impeding upon the right to free speech and should install a national human rights institution without delay. It also needed to improve its protection of the rights of Korean, Chinese and Muslim minority groups in the country.

Mr. Kono, in concluding remarks, said Japan would continue to make tireless efforts to improve the human rights situation without permitting any form of discrimination, including racial or ethnic, and would engage in further cooperation with the international community to that end.

The delegation of Japan included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Comprehensive Ainu Policy Office, Ministry of Justice, Human Rights Bureau, Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, National Police Agency and the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The next public meeting of the Committee will take place at 3 p.m. this afternoon when it will begin its review of the combined tenth and eleventh periodic report of Estonia.
Report

The Committee is reviewing the combined seventh to ninth periodic report of Japan: CERD/C/JPN/7-9.

Presentation of the Report

AKIRA KONO, Ambassador to the United Nations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, explained some of the major steps that the Government of Japan had taken towards the implementation of the Convention. Japan was actively working on measures to establish a comprehensive policy to ensure the respect of the human rights of the Ainu people. The focus of the efforts was the Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony, the opening of which was timed to coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. The space would be a symbol of Japan’s future as a society that respected harmony with diverse and rich cultures and different ethnic groups, while respecting the dignity of the Ainu people, who were indigenous to Japan, and dealing with the problems faced by Ainu culture.

Refugee recognition procedures were carried out in accordance with Japan’s refugee recognition system which took effect in January 1982, and a refugee examination counsellor system was established to enhance the system’s neutrality and fairness. Japan strictly practiced the principle of non-refoulement. The standard processing period for refugee applications was set at six months, and procedures were expedited by an increase in the number of refugee examination counsellors from 19 to 80. Pamphlets available in 14 languages offered guidance concerning procedures which were available at regional immigration bureaus and on the internet. User-friendly procedures for applications had been adopted, including the use of an interpreter in the desired language of the applicant.

Under its framework for resettlement of refugees Japan had accepted 63 Myanmarese refugees who had been sheltered at a refugee camp in Thailand, aiming to make an international contribution and provide humanitarian assistance. [NB:  These refugees refused to come to Japan.] Furthermore, Myanmarese refugees temporarily staying in Malaysia had been made eligible for acceptance, as well as family members of refugees Japan had accepted in the past who were currently in Thailand. The Government strove to support the steady acceptance and local integration of resettled refugees through measures, including guidance on daily life, Japanese language training and employment placement.

The Government emphasized the importance of human rights education and awareness-raising based on the concept of mutual respect for human rights with a correct understanding not only of one’s own human rights but of the rights of others, as well as awareness of the responsibilities that included the exercise of rights. There were awareness-raising activities nationwide, including lectures and distribution of literature under the slogan “Respect the rights of foreign nationals”, to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against that group. The Human Rights Organs of the Ministry of Justice had established Human Rights Counselling Offices for foreign nationals, which offered interpretation in English, Chinese and other languages. The organs could also investigate complaints of rights infringements and take the appropriate measures.

Japan would host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which would be a festive occasion for the whole of Japan, from Hokkaido, where the Ainu people lived, all the way to Okinawa. The Fundamental Principles of the Olympic Charter stipulated that ‘any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on the grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise was incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement’. In light of the spirit of the constitution of Japan and the Olympic Charter, Japan would continue to work tirelessly to improve its human rights situation and not permit any form of discrimination, including on the basis of race or ethnicity.

OSAMU YAMANAKA, Director, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, gave in-depth oral answers to the list of issues submitted by the Committee prior to today’s review. Mr. Yamanaka spoke about anti-discrimination related domestic laws, and confirmed that discrimination on the basis of race was prohibited in Article 14 of the constitution, as well as in relevant laws and regulations including in the fields of employment, education, medical care and transport. The dissemination and expression of racist thought could constitute a crime of defamation and other crimes under the Penal Code in certain cases, while a racially discriminatory act constituted a tort under the Civil Code. The Government was making efforts to implement the Act on the Limitation of Liability for Damages of Specified Telecommunications Service Providers and the Right to Demand Disclosure of Identification Information of the Senders which limited the liability of a provider in cases, for example, where information on the Internet infringed the rights of others.

Mr. Yamanaka briefed the Committee on activities to promote human rights education, such as training programmes for teachers, judges, officials, probation officers and members of the police force, among others. He described efforts to eliminate discrimination against the Burakumin, as well as discrimination in the fields of employment, in the selection of tenants for rental housing and in social education.

Regarding indigenous peoples, Mr. Yamanaka said the Government of Japan only recognized the Ainu people as indigenous, and that people living in Okinawa Prefecture or born in Okinawa were not subject to ‘racial discrimination’ as provided for in the Convention, but would discuss the issue further during the dialogue. Since Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese administration in May 1972 the Government had implemented various measures which had resulted in the gap with the mainland being reduced, especially in the field of social capital development.

Concerning the Ainu indigenous people, Mr. Yamanaka said the Government aimed to promote public understanding through education and awareness-raising, develop the Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony, promote research concerning the Ainu people, promote Ainu culture including the Ainu language, promote the effective use of land and resources, and promote business as well as measures to improve livelihoods.

Turning to people of non-Japanese nationality, such as immigrants, Mr. Yamanaka also highlighted the ‘Respect the rights of foreign nationals’ campaign which aimed to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against foreign nationals. He also neither confirmed that refusing accommodation in a hotel solely on the grounds that the person was of a specific race or ethnicity was nor [sic] permitted under the Inns and Hotels Act. The Government supported efforts to increase the number of hotels and Japanese inns registered under that Act, so foreign tourists could stay with peace of mind.

Government actions to combat trafficking in persons were also described, as was the application procedure for asylum seekers, the treatment of detainees and the objection system regarding immigration procedures and deportation.

Questions by the Country Rapporteur

ANWAR KEMAL, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for the Report of Japan, said on a positive note Japan had many of the attributes of a great country with an ancient sophisticated culture. It had not hesitated to share its wealth and technical know-how with developing countries. Since the end of the Second World War, it had established a democratic constitution with a wide range of provisions to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. However, under the Convention State parties were required to enact legislation specifically to combat racial discrimination. Article 14 of the Japanese constitution prohibited racial discrimination but did not cover all five grounds for discrimination listed in the Convention. Comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation was therefore needed.

Turning to other positive measures Mr. Kemal said the State party had made progress in several areas, for example it had consulted members of civil society for the report, albeit to a limited extent. More importantly, it had taken a number of measures to address the problems faced by the Ainu indigenous people and had taken special measures to uplift the standards of living of the people of the Ryukus. It had also provided training and orientation sessions to public officials to sensitize them about the problems faced by minorities in Japan.

The Committee was concerned about the continued incidence of explicit racist statements and actions against groups, including children attending Korean schools, and the harmful and racist expressions and attacks via the Internet, particularly against the Burakumin. Japan would be aware of the Committee’s latest general recommendation on racist hate speech, in which it made it clear that freedom of speech was not absolute and did not permit individuals or organizations licence to demonize vulnerable groups. Human Rights Council members had drawn attention to more than 360 cases of racist demonstrations and speeches in Japan since 2013. What actions was Japan taking to curb hate speech, including from public officials? Was victimization of vulnerable groups against Japanese culture? If so, firm action by the State party could be justified, said Mr. Kemal. In addressing acts of injustice it was sometimes necessary to confront and punish wrong-doers, and Japanese history had many such examples.

In 2010 the Committee requested Japan to ensure equal treatment between Japanese and non-Japanese in the rights of access to places and services intended for use by the general public, such as restaurants, bathhouses and hotels. However, the Human Rights Committee last month in Geneva concluded that Japanese and non-Japanese were not treated equally, and there were many signs displayed in such public facilities stating that access was only for the Japanese. Could the State party please comment?

The exploitation of interns, or apprentices from overseas countries under a Government programme was an issue raised by civil society. They were reportedly not taught any technical skills but were used as cheap manual labour, working long hours and being mistreated. Japan had negative growth ? its population was shrinking. Perhaps it would be better to have a proper immigration programme to get workers into the country, rather than using the ‘intern’ programme which was discriminatory, commented Mr. Kemal.

Outlining other areas of concern, Mr. Kemal said the Committee’s last set of concluding observations to the State party in 2010 referred to discrimination against the Burakumin. However, the State party omitted reference to the Baraku problem in its latest report. Civil society reported that although the living conditions of the Baraku had improved over recent years, thanks to special measures, the gap in the standard of living between Baraku and the majority remained wide, and social discrimination continued to be a troubling problem.

While Japan was maintaining its commitment to establish a national human rights institution compliant with the Paris Principles, progress was painfully slow, in particular since November 2013. All the treaty bodies, including this one, would be highly satisfied the day Japan enacted the appropriate legislation to meet this commitment.

In 2010 the Committee recommended that Japan adopt an approach where the identity of non-Japanese nationals seeking naturalization was respected, and that official application forms and publications dealing with the naturalization process refrain from using language that persuaded applicants to adopt Japanese names for fear of discrimination. The report was silent on that matter.

Mr. Kemal also asked what the State party was doing to address the phenomenon of double discrimination, in particular regarding women and children from vulnerable groups.

Japan had made limited progress towards implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and had also been urged to consider ratifying the International Labour Organization Convention 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples in independent countries. Mr. Kemal noted that UNESCO had recognized the number of Ryukyu languages as well as the Okinawans’ unique ethnicity, culture and traditions. Had Japan been engaging in consultations with Okinawan representatives?

Efforts made by the State party to facilitate education for minority groups were noted with appreciation by the Committee, yet still there was a lack of adequate opportunities for Ainu children or children of other national groups to receive instruction in their language. Similarly, complaints had been made that the State party had stopped funding Korean schools, despite it guaranteeing the right for children of Korean residents in Japan to learn their native language and culture.

Questions by the Experts

Japan tended to get a poor press in human rights battles due to films and stories about the Second World War, commented an Expert, but it was not forgotten that it was one of the most advanced philosophies and had inspired many peoples in Asia in the fight against colonialism. Japan obviously had an advanced infrastructure for the promotion and protection of human rights and had made good progress. Nevertheless, there was a streak of insularity in the Japanese nature and immigrant communities frequently faced discrimination.

Civil society representatives showed the Committee a very disturbing video about racist hate speech targeting Korean residents in Japan, said an Expert. He gathered the Prime Minister of Japan agreed, as per his statement last month that Japan must take measures to combat racist hate speech. To what extent had senior officials condemned the sort of racist hate speech seen in that video?

There was a serious problem of racial discrimination in Japan, said an Expert. Some extreme right organizations and individuals claimed they had Japanese superiority. Some even had deep-rooted colonial concepts, he said. They were xenophobic; they degraded, harassed and provoked foreigners wantonly and sometimes even perpetrated violent acts against them. They used the newspapers, internet, TV and other media to spread their racist hate speech. The extreme right groups held demonstrations, even flying Japanese military flags used during the Second World War in order to revive militarism. They went unpunished by the authorities, and so became increasingly wanton in their practices. Their victims had no access to justice, and the police ignored their complaints.

Some senior politicians, including cabinet ministers, had made racist statements which sought to mislead the people of Japan and distort history. They also spread the so-called ‘theory of China threat’. That was because Japan had no special law against discrimination and no national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles.

The Ainu and seven other languages and dialects were threatened, said an Expert. Happily, measures had been taken to reinvigorate the Ainu language and now many people spoke it, but what had been done for the other languages? The Ainu were recognized as indigenous peoples and had access to their ancestral land, at least on Hokkaido. Could the delegation speak more about their land rights?

What about the repatriation of former Japanese emigrants back to Japan? An Expert asked about a case of Japanese people who moved to Brazil before moving back to Japan, and how they were welcomed and integrated back home.

The issue of sexual slavery, known as ‘comfort women’ dating back to World War II was an ongoing violation. Almost 90 per cent of the women ? who were mostly from minority groups ? had by now passed away, but the Government continued to deny they were sex slaves, rather asserting that they were wartime prostitutes. That caused untold agony for those women; they and their families deserved recognition of their victim status and reparations. The Expert also asked about discrimination against women, particularly women from minority groups, and whether Japan would consider taking affirmative action.

What was the State party’s understanding of race, as scientifically, races did not exist: all humans belonged to the same race, said an Expert. What was covered by Japan’s definition of race and was it only limited to citizens of Japan?

Exactly how many Koreans were resident in Japan, asked an Expert, commenting that the approximate half a million Koreans in Japan appeared to bear the brunt of racial discrimination. What were the reasons for the discriminatory treatment, he asked, was it due to differences in culture or in language? Many non-Japanese people felt they had to change their names into Japanese names in order to avoid discrimination. They were not treated equally to other Japanese, added an Expert, and were not allowed to hold public sector positions.

The ending of the waiver programme for Korean schools and subsidies for school fees was not only a major concern, in depriving many children from adequate education, but a symbol of wider discrimination. Furthermore, the restrictions on uniforms for Korean students, which hampered their self-identity, were another issue.

Response by the Delegation

On education, a delegate said children of foreign nationals could attend public schools in Japan for free, and the Government was making efforts to establish a system which guaranteed opportunities for children of Korean residents in Japan to learn their native language and culture and to promote international understanding among Japanese children. However, most Korean residents who did not wish to attend Japanese schools attended Korean schools established in Japan.

Regarding the withdrawal of tuition support of children attending Korean schools in Japan, a delegate explained that it had become apparent that the Korean schools did not meet the requirements to receive the tuition funding, therefore, the funding had been withdrawn. One reason was that the schools had a close relationship with an organization related to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and as the schools could not prove their independence they no longer benefitted from the Public School Tuition Fee Support Fund. If the schools could demonstrate their independence or when diplomatic relations of Japan and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were restored then the Government would re-evaluate whether the schools could benefit from the Support Fund once again. Korean schools were recognized by prefectural governorates as “miscellaneous schools” as were other international schools, for example British or Chinese, and were not discriminated against.

On hate speech and incitement to racial discrimination, a delegate said any expression of hate ? insult, defamation, intimidation, and obstruction of justice ? was a crime that could be invoked under the Criminal Code of Japan. He referred to the video mentioned by Committee members as well as allegations that the police attended xenophobic demonstrations to protect the demonstrators from anti-racism campaigners. A delegate from the National Police Agency said they provided security at those demonstrations in an impartial way, not to protect the demonstrators but to protect public security in general.

In June this year Prime Minister Abe said hate speech was damaging Japan’s pride within the international community and that the issue should be and would be dealt with squarely. He called upon his party to deal with the issue, reported a delegate. Support was given to victims of hate speech and other human rights violations by the Japan Legal Support Centre which had offices throughout the country. The offices provided support programmes for financially distressed people such as free legal aid or temporary payments to lawyers.

The objective of “technical internships” for foreign nationals was to transfer the skills, techniques and knowledge of Japan to foreign nationals in order to contribute to the human resources development of developing countries. There had been instances of misconduct by the receiving organizations and reports of non-payment of wages and long working hours. Consequently in June 2014 Japan revised its strategy and started a ‘drastic inter-agency review’ of the system. Government agreements with sending nations were also reviewed. The ‘drastic review’ would be completed by the end of 2014, and in 2015 a new surveillance system and operational institution would be implemented.

Japan’s position on the ‘comfort women’ issue was that it did not meet the definition of racial discrimination defined in the Convention, and was not relevant to the Committee. Furthermore, Japan opposed the term ‘sexual slavery’ which it found inappropriate. However, the Government wished to sincerely and honestly respond to the Committee’s concern, said a delegate, and so it would explain measures taken for the ‘comfort women’.

In the past Japan caused tremendous damage and suffering to many countries, particularly Asian women, said a delegate. The Government, squarely facing those historical facts, expressed its deep remorse and heartfelt apology, and feelings of sincere mourning for all victims of World War II, both at home and abroad. Prime Minister Abe had said publicly that he was deeply pained to think of the ‘comfort women’ who experienced immeasurable pain and suffering beyond description, as had previous Prime Ministers of Japan. The Prime Minister had also written letters of apology to the women (copies of the letter were shared with the Committee).

Compensation had been dealt with through the San Francisco Peace Treaty, bilateral agreements and other treaties, and legally speaking the settlement had clearly been made. However, recognizing that the ‘comfort women’ issue was a grave affront to the honour and dignity of a large number of women, the Government and people of Japan had established the Asian Women’s Fund in 1995, to extend atonement from the Japanese people to the former ‘comfort women’ in the form of money donated by the people of Japan, for women from the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan, as identified by their Governments. Additionally, the Asian Women’s Fund paid for medical and psychological care, welfare support and even welfare projects such as those in the Netherlands for women who suffered incurable psychological or physical damage during World War II. The Asian Women’s Fund was disbanded in March 2007 but the Government continued to implement follow-up activities.

Regarding reports that foreign nationals were refused access into some hotels, a delegate said the Inns and Hotels Act prohibited the refusal of access to a foreign national solely on the grounds of their race or ethnicity. Additionally, the Development of Hotels for In-Bound Tourists Act served to improve hotel accommodation for tourists. Complaints about discrimination by hotels, and other public facilities such as restaurants, public areas or public transport could be made under the Act on the Optimization and Promotion of Public Facilities.

The Advisory Council for Future Ainu Policy made policy recommendations to the Government in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Japan voted for. Japan believed the exercise of the indigenous Ainu’s rights in accordance with the Declaration should only be restrained when their rights impeded upon the rights and best interests of the wider Japanese public. Ainu representatives accounted for one-third or more of the members of the Advisory Council, the delegate added.

Regarding Ainu indigenous people who did not live on the island of Hokkaido, a delegate referred to a 2008 resolution adopted unanimously by the Parliament which demanded recognition of the Ainu people as indigenous. The declaration found that the Ainu people had lived mostly in the north of Japan’s archipelago, particularly on the island of Hokkaido, and had their own unique language of culture. Ainu people living in other areas were surveyed to learn about their living conditions, he added.

The Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony would open in 2020, to coincide with the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Space would feature museums, traditional Ainu houses and handcraft studios where people could learn about the Ainu people’s world view, especially of the natural world. The space would serve as the National Centre for the Restoration of Ainu Culture. Efforts to promote Ainu language and culture across Japan were described by a delegate who also said although it was not envisaged to use Ainu in the classrooms of all schools, in many schools attended by Ainu students children did have the opportunity to study the language and culture of Ainu.

The value of the people of Okinawa was recognized and their rights were guaranteed. Their valuable culture and traditions were promoted and preserved within the law. Following the reversion of Okinawa to Japan in May 1937 the Okinawa Promotion Plan and related Act were adopted to guide measures to develop Okinawa’s social infrastructure. As a result, the gap between Okinawa and the mainland was narrowing and steady improvement was being seen.

The Government recognized trafficking in persons as a serious human rights infringement and treated it as such. In 2004 it launched the Action Plan of Measures to Combat Trafficking in Persons, and since then the number of victims had decreased annually to around 20 to 30 per year. Compensation was paid, with coordination from the International Organization of Migration, to support victims.

A delegate said it was a nationally accepted principle that public officials with national power to make public decisions had to have Japanese nationality. That was not unreasonable. There were many jobs in the civil service where persons without Japanese nationality were employed, such as laboratories and research institutions. Furthermore, other professions, such as nursing, were open to non-Japanese nationals.

Regarding refugees and asylum seekers, a delegate said they should not be sent back to their original countries if they faced any risk to their person on their return. The delegate spoke about the refugee application process, and said even if an applicant for refugee status did not receive it, they could still apply for residency in Japan even without humanitarian consideration. Although in some cases they would be deported, Japan did not return people to certain countries, as per the Refugee Convention and the Convention on Enforced Disappearances.

Concerning social welfare for foreign nationals, a delegate said Japan’s social welfare system had undergone several changes, including deletion of the requirement that foreign nationals in Japan had to meet the same requirements as Japanese nationals, for example to benefit from the national pension system. Today foreign nationals were covered by the pension scheme. The Revised National Pension Act of 2012 further reduced the qualifying period from 25 to 10 years, starting in October 2015. Reports that individuals undergoing naturalization were encouraged to adopt Japanese names and characters were not true, said a delegate.

If a foreign national spouse was divorced from their Japanese spouse then he or she lost their status as a Japanese resident. However, that did not mean the person was automatically deprived of their residency status. They had to apply to the Government with details of their background, life in Japan and reasons for the divorce ? or death of their spouse. If the person had a child who needed to stay in Japan then the person would usually be given long-term resident status to stay in Japan. According to nationality law a child who had a Japanese father or mother at the time of birth would obtain Japanese nationality by birth, a delegate confirmed.

Human rights education was provided at developmentally appropriate levels in schools. Authorities, based upon the guidelines, sought to particularly support youth who had difficulties, as well as widows. Mother and Child Family support funds helped vulnerable families with subsidised childcare. The Basic Plan for Gender Equality adopted in 2010 further had provisions to support women suffering from discrimination. A delegate also spoke about the establishment of Human Rights Counselling Offices under the Legal Affairs Bureau, which investigated cases of suspected human rights infringements and provided remedies. The Bureau also ran telephone hotlines for women and children to report violations.

Japan was seriously considering lifting its reservation to Article 14 of the Convention, which related to individual communications. There were international treaties yet to be ratified by Japan, including International Labour Organization Conventions 111 and 169, on Migrant Workers Rights and on Domestic Workers, as well as the Convention on Stateless Persons, the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, and the Convention on Genocide. The Government recognized the ideals of those Conventions but had to carefully consider their consistency with Japanese law and the legislative efforts that would be required to accede to them.

Follow-Up Questions from the Experts

An Expert said a delegate had asserted that the Committee could raise questions about historical cases, even if they happened 100 years ago, if relevant to the Convention. The Expert believed the issues of ‘comfort women’ and land taken from indigenous peoples were relevant.

Was it correct that the Japanese Government did not recognize the existence of indigenous people on its island of Okinawa? What was being done to terminate or moderate the surveillance of Muslims, an Expert asked. An Expert said the Committee reserved its right to use the ‘sexual slavery’ terminology rather than ‘comfort women’, which was also used by the High Commissioner and the Human Rights Committee.

Response by the Delegation

A delegate responded to questions about alleged systematic monitoring of Muslims in Japan. He said if this was true, they were monitored not because of their religion but was simply as a matter of public security. A delegate from the National Police Agency added that details of information gathering activities to prevent future terrorism could not be disclosed, but noted that the police collected information according to the law.

Japan had its own view on Okinawa, said a delegate. Japan had many islands in its archipelago on many of which traditions with unique traits had been developed, as on Okinawa. Everybody in Japan had the right to enjoy their own culture, practice their own religion and speak their own language ? nobody was denied those rights. The Japanese recognized their rich culture and traditions and had a Plan of Action for the Promotion of Okinawa.

Statistically, in 2013 there were 3,349 people of Brazilian nationality entering Japan, and by the end of the year 181,268 of people with Brazilian nationality were living in Japan.

Concluding Remarks

ANWAR KEMAL, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for the Report of Japan, said Japan was making progress in the implementation of the Convention. Japan had a democratic constitution and therefore should be able to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law which would plug the gaps in the domestic legislation as recommended by the Committee five years ago. It should be able to tackle racist hate speech without impeding upon the right to free speech. It should install a national human rights institution without delay. And the State party should enact measures to bring the standard of living of the Ainu people, as well as the Ryukyu, up to that of the rest of the population without delay. Japan also needed to improve its protection of the rights of Korean, Chinese and Muslim minority groups in the country. He thanked the delegation for the productive dialogue.

AKIRA KONO, Ambassador to the United Nations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, thanked the Committee for the fruitful dialogue, for its comments and interest, and said the reviews were a valuable process that helped the Government improve its implementation of the Convention. Japan would continue to make tireless efforts to improve the human rights situation without permitting any form of discrimination, including racial or ethnic. The Government would engage in further cooperation with the international community to that end.

_______

For use of the information media; not an official record

Nikkei: Another Japanese nabbed for being like a “suspicious foreigner” in Ibaraki. Adding it to the collection

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Hi Blog. This in from Debito.org Reader NH:

==============================================
Debito, Here’s another one for your files:
日本国籍気付かず誤認逮捕 茨城、旅券不携帯と判断
2014/8/14 日本経済新聞
http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXLASDG1400K_U4A810C1CC0000/?n_cid=TPRN0009
茨城県警牛久署は14日、日本国籍とフィリピン国籍を共に持つ、さいたま市のパート工員の男性(20)を、日本国籍に気付かないまま誤って入管難民法違反(旅券不携帯)容疑で現行犯逮捕したと発表した。約7時間後に釈放した。

牛久署によると、13日昼すぎ、牛久市のJR常磐線ひたち野うしく駅近くで「不審な外国人がいる」と駅前の交番に通報があった。交番で署員が男性から事情を聴き、外国人なのにパスポートを常に携帯する義務を守っていないと判断し、午後5時10分ごろ、現行犯逮捕した。

その後、通訳が同席して取り調べた際、男性が「日本国籍もある」と説明。確認が取れたため、13日深夜に釈放した。父親が日本人、母親がフィリピン人という。

橋本康一郎署長は「おわび申し上げる。指示を徹底し、再発防止に努める」とコメントした。〔共同〕

English summary: A no-good busybody “reported” to the police that there was a “suspicious foreigner” around. The police duly rushed to the scene and questioned a Philipino 20-year-old they found. They arrested him as caught in the act of not carrying his passport with him.

After 7 hours of questioning, through an interpreter it came to light he also had Japanese citizenship and his father is Japanese. They double-checked, and since it was true released him in the middle of the night.

The police stated “We are sorry. We will try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The article and police statement does not find any fault with the person who reported a suspicious foreigner, or with the police for going and questioning people alleged to be suspicious foreigners. That is pretty much just the whole story.

It’s not a bad law exam question, since we could ask, did he have to give up his Filipino citizenship now that he is 20, etc.? The article doesn’t go there either, of course.

Another example of this law’s failure to account for Japan’s diverse population, and people getting caught in the cross-fire. I can only imagine how this young man felt about all of this.

==============================================
COMMENT: I can imagine. I myself have been racially profiled (although not arrested) by J-cops on numerous occasions (see here and here, for example), even after naturalizing.  So were these people (one of whom actually was arrested in 2006 for looking “too foreign”.) This is yet another reason why Japan needs laws against racial discrimination — because you can’t always tell anymore who’s “Japanese” based upon physical appearance alone. Innocent Japanese who don’t “look it” are going to get caught in any dragnet of suspicion.

I think Nishanta-san, a longtime acquaintance of mine and naturalized citizen, would agree (he’s in the center of the Newsweek cover). Below is what happened to him recently in Japanese (courtesy of Becky and others).  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

==============================================

newsweek091106

日本人のあなたが外国人として逮捕される日。

にしゃんた | 社会学者(羽衣国際大学准教授)・タレント

Yahoo News 

http://bylines.news.yahoo.co.jp/nishantha/20140818-00038350/

写真:Rosemary McKevitt

日本出国の窓口は一緒くたになっているが、入国審査のゲートは大きく二種類ある。一つは「日本人」、もう一つは「外国人」である。余談ながら外国人の英語表記は今では「foreigner」になっているが私が日本に初上陸した頃は、「alien」となっていたことを懐かしく思い出す。

10年ほど前から日本国籍である筆者が持っているたった一つだけのえんじ色パスポートの表紙には、美しい菊の紋章がしっかりデザインされている。2週間ほど前に海外から日本に戻って来たのだが、国籍の正しい自覚はあるため入国審査の段階では当然「日本人」カウンターを目掛けて進んだ。しかし、私の行動を憚る男性が現れた。入国管理局の職員であると思われる。進もうとも、ずっと何回も「貴方は違う」と繰り返す。避けて通ろうとしても、追っかけてくる。最後には目の前に立ちはだかり私を押さえ込んだ。

一連の流れ、みなさんはここで何が起きているか想像できますか?これは、私の肌の色で判断して国籍は日本人のはずがないと決め付けて私を外国人の枠に引っ張り込もうとしているのである。これは、今年の8月7日付けの日本の玄関口成田空港での話である。私のような日本人はいないはずと決め付けているのは、何も無知なド素人ではない、知識豊富で日本国家のエリートのはずの法務省職員である。私ごときの場合は、このような経験も前向きに考えれば、人前で喋ったり書いたりとネタにもなるので歓迎しても良いが、このような事が、誰彼かまわずに日本の彼方此方で起きているとしたら、私達は一度立ち止まって考える必要がある。

空港での出来事から一週間も経たぬ内に、同じようなことがこの社会において珍しく無いということが伝わってきた。13日、日本国籍を持った日本在住の20歳の男性が、出入国管理法違反、つまり旅券不携帯容疑の罪で茨城県警牛久署に誤認逮捕されたのである。警察側の言い訳によると、

13日午後、JR常磐線ひたち野うしく駅近くのマンションの管理人から「不審な外国人がいる」と駅前の交番に通報があった。駆けつけた署員が男性から事情を聴き、外国人なのに旅券を常に持ち歩いていないと判断し、同日午後5時10分ごろに現行犯逮捕した。 (8月14日産経新聞・朝刊

何の罪も犯していない20歳の青年を、昼ごろから警察に連行し(警察発表では任意同行となっているが…)、5時過ぎに逮捕した。逮捕から約7時間後に釈放したのだから実際には総拘束時間は10時間超えている可能性も考えられる。ちなみに誤認逮捕の被害者の男性は日本国籍の父とフィリピン国籍の母の間に生まれ、国籍法上22歳までにどちらかの国籍を選択できるようになっており、逮捕された時点では実際には二重国籍である。

今回の事件から何が見えてくるのか?

(1)事件の発端となった、電話連絡してきたという「通報人」と警察双方で一致した「不審な外国人」の「定義」についてまず問い、整理する必要がある。一人の青年が、一般市民によって不審者と決め付けられ、警察がそれに輪をかけて対処した今回の件は「日本の多数派と権力が一緒になって少数者虐めをした」と指摘されても言い訳はできない。

(2)今回の警察の失態の原因は、他ならぬ本人たちの「無知」と凝り固まった「思い込み」に基づいた終始にわたる言動にあったことが明確である。被害者は、警察に「どこの国の人?」と日本語で質問され、「フィリピンと日本の二重国籍」であると伝えている。そこで警察は入国管理局にフィリピン旅券での出入記録の有無を問い合わせており、記録が無かったため逮捕したとなっている。フィリピン旅券での入国の記録が無かったのならば、誤認逮捕された被害者の「日本人」としての出入記録をなぜ問い合わせをしなかったかという事も、警察の犯した大きな過ちではないか。あくまでも「外国人」と決め付けた偏った捜査に執着するあまり、現場では逮捕された被害者の声に耳を傾けるという最低限の人権すら保障されていことが明確である。

(3)早急に改善に取り組む必要性のある課題も見えてくる。誤認逮捕された被害者は、自分から「国籍は日本とフィリピン」であることや「友達に会いに駅前に来た」などと警察に伝え、伝わっているはずにも関わらず、警察の言い分だと、逮捕後に通訳を通して初めて日本人であることを知るようになったと言っている点、ここでも警察の決め付けた言動の怖さが改めて感じると同時に、逮捕する前になぜ通訳を活用しないのかという制度的な大問題を指摘できる。

(4)合わせて今回の件に関してメディア側にも問題がある。ここで伝わってくるのは一方的に警察の言い分のみであって、被害者の声が不在である。日本社会が犯した過ちの改善と再発防止を本気で考えているのであれば被害者青年の言葉こそ最も参考になるだろう。なぜ日本のメディアがその点を疎かにしているのか、自問自答する必要があろう。

このような誤認逮捕は昨日今日はじまったものではない。実はもっと酷いケースもある。2006年02月25日、埼玉でも誤認逮捕があった。逮捕されたのは、女性で容疑は今回と同じく旅券不携帯であった。

午後7時40分ごろ、川口市内の路上を歩いていた女性にパトロール中の署員3人が職務質問。署員は女性の容姿が東南アジア出身者に似ており、名前や国籍を尋ねたところ、小さな声で「日本人です」と言ったきり何も話さなくなったため、署に任意同行した。女性は署でも日本語の質問に対し無言を通したため、同署は「外国人」と判断。パスポートの不所持を確かめて同容疑で逮捕した。

女性は逮捕後に家族の名前を紙に書き、母親に確認すると娘と分かって誤認逮捕が判明した。母親は「娘は知らない人とは話をしない性格」と話していたという。 (毎日新聞2006年2月28日)

つまり、日本社会において、日本人であっても外国人として逮捕される可能性は充分にあると理解する必要がある。「誤認逮捕に至り、おわびする。再発防止に努める」と警察責任者は謝っているが、一般の人は謝っても許されないことでも、人を深く傷つけようとも、権力のある側が行ったことならば、謝罪だけで済む話なのだろうか。一つははっきり予言できる。このまま放っておけば今後このような問題が多発するということである。

公僕をする任務を担っているといえ、権力を持たされている人間にこそ正しい知識を伝え、人権教育を施す必要がある。日本の公務員、筆者の個人的な経験からだと、特に「入国管理局員」および「警察」に対して行っている「犯罪者予備軍扱いとしての外国人」という偏った視野の狭い教育を正し、国際感覚を伴った視野の広い教育を行う必要がある。

最後になるが、「日本人」であってもあなどってはならない。あなたは日本人であってもいつの日か「外国人」と決め付けられ逮捕される可能性は充分にあるということを心に留めておく必要がある。合わせて是非、日本の社会において常日頃「外国人」というだけで心身とも窮屈な思いをしている者もいるということに思いを馳せて頂きたい。

※ 参考資料として下記の記事も合わせて読んでいただきたい。

ジャパニーズ・オンリー!(Japanese only!)繰り返さないために。

あなたは、ジャパニーズ・オンリーを見分けられますか!?

にしゃんた社会学者(羽衣国際大学准教授)・タレント

1969年7月18日、スリランカのキャンディー市(世界遺産)生まれ。 高校生だった87年にボーイスカウトで初来日。その翌年に留学のため再来日をし、立命館大学に入学。新聞奨学生をしながら大学在学中に全日本空手道連盟公認四段・全国空手道連盟公認指導員を取得したほか、多数の弁論大会に出場し優勝する。大学を卒業後、大学院に進み、経済学の博士号を取得。現在は京都に在住し、羽衣国際大学で教鞭をとる傍ら、テレビ・ラジオ出演、講演会や執筆活動などを行っている。2005年日本国籍取得。08年日本女性と結婚、一男一女の父。近著は『日本で知った「幸せ」の値段』(講談社)

ENDS

United Nations demands Tokyo introduce anti-discrimination law to counter hate speech (HRC report CCPR/C/JPN/CO/6 text included in full, citing “Japanese Only” signs, thanks)

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Hi Blog.  Good news.  The United Nations has once again reviewed Japan’s human rights record (preliminary report below), and found it wanting.  Here’s the bit that has been cited in Japan’s news media (also below):

////////////////////////////////////////

Human Rights Committee
Concluding observations (2014) CCPR/C/JPN/CO/6
ADVANCE UNEDITED VERSION
Human Rights Committee
Concluding observations on the sixth periodic report of Japan (excerpt)

Hate speech and racial discrimination

12. The Committee expresses concern at the widespread racist discourse against members of minority groups, such as Koreans, Chinese or Burakumin, inciting hatred and discrimination against them, and the insufficient protection granted against these acts in the criminal and civil code. The Committee also expresses concern at the high number of extremist demonstrations authorised, the harassment and violence perpetrated against minorities, including against foreign students, as well the open display in private establishments of signs such as “Japanese only” (arts. 2, 19, 20 and 27).

The State should prohibit all propaganda advocating racial superiority or hatred that incites to discrimination, hostility or violence, and should prohibit demonstrations that intended to disseminate such propaganda. The State party should also allocate sufficient resources for awareness-raising campaigns against racism and increase its efforts to ensure that judges, prosecutors and police officials are trained to be able to detect hate and racially motivated crimes. The State party should also take all necessary steps to prevent racist attacks and to ensure that the alleged perpetrators are thoroughly investigated and prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with appropriate sanctions.

////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT:  As well as the hate-speech issue, happy to see the generally-overlooked aftermath of the Otaru Onsens Case and the information on Debito.org’s Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments is still being cited.  Keep the pressure on, UN.  The media reaction and the report in full follows, and there’s lots more important stuff (including issues of “Trainee” NJ slave-wage work, Japan’s historical wartime sexual slavery, abuses of police power, and even Fukushima irradiation!)  Dr. ARUDOU Debito

////////////////////////////////////////

U.N. committee calls on Tokyo to introduce anti-discrimination law to counter hate speech
Asahi Shinbun, August 22, 2014, By ICHIRO MATSUO/ Correspondent
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201408220041

GENEVA–A U.N. panel on racial discrimination has compiled a draft recommendation calling on Japan to introduce comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation to contain hate speech against ethnic Koreans in the country.

The draft was produced after the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination held a meeting here on Aug. 20-21 to discuss racial issues in Japan. The committee is expected to soon present its concluding remarks based on the draft recommendation.

At the opening of the meeting, a Japanese government representative said Tokyo needs to carefully consider freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution, if it is to establish a new anti-discrimination law covering a wide range of issues.

Before the meeting officially got under way, many of the U.N. committee members watched a video that showed Japanese right-wing group members and others shouting such threats as “Come out and I’ll kill you” at ethnic Koreans on streets in Japan.

Some committee members pointed out that taking countermeasures against such verbal abuse would likely not conflict with the protection of freedom of expression.

They also criticized the way police in the video stood passively by as the people yelled insults and curses, saying that it seemed as if the police officers were accompanying them.

Yoshifu Arita, a Democratic Party of Japan Upper House member who sat in on the committee session, said Japan lags behind other advanced countries in the protection of human rights.

“For other nations, Japan’s sense of human rights probably appears to be going against (the times),” he said.

Arita said he will make efforts to introduce a basic law on the elimination of racial discrimination as early as possible to counter hate speech.
ENDS

Japanese Version:

ヘイトスピーチ「禁止法が必要」 国連委、日本に勧告案
朝日新聞 ジュネーブ=松尾一郎2014年8月21日23時17分 Courtesy of MS
http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASG8P1RGLG8PUHBI004.html?iref=comtop_6_04

国連人種差別撤廃委員会による対日審査が20、21両日、スイス・ジュネーブで行われ、在日韓国・朝鮮人らを対象にしたヘイトスピーチ(差別的憎悪表現)に関連して、「包括的な差別禁止法の制定が必要」とする日本政府への勧告案をまとめた。今後、この案を基にした「最終見解」を公表する。

審査の冒頭、日本政府側は、ヘイトスピーチを禁止する法律の制定や、インターネットなどでの外国人差別や人種差別が発生した場合の法の運用について、「民法上の不法行為にも刑事罰の対象にもならない行為に対する規制に対しては、憲法が保障する『表現の自由』などの関係を慎重に検討しなくてはならない」と述べた。

多くの委員は、審査前に日本でのヘイトスピーチの様子をビデオで視聴。右派系市民団体が「出てこい、殺すぞ」などと叫ぶ様子について「これに対応することは表現の自由の保護と抵触しないのではないか。スピーチだけではなく実際に暴力を起こすような威嚇なのではないか。非常に過激でスピーチ以上のものだ」との指摘が出た。警察の警備の様子についても「(ヘイトスピーチをする)加害者たちに警察が付き添っているかのように見えた。多くの国では、こういうことが起こった場合には逮捕するものだ」と批判した。

傍聴した有田芳生参議院議員(民主党)は「日本の人権感覚は外国からすると(時代に)逆行しているようにみえるのだろう」と述べ、ヘイトスピーチなどに対応するための「人種差別撤廃基本法」の早期制定を目指す考えを示した。

委員会には「在日特権を許さない市民の会」と「なでしこアクション」がそれぞれ、「在日韓国朝鮮人は日本で特権を得ている」などと主張する報告書を事前提出している。(ジュネーブ=松尾一郎)
ENDS

//////////////////////////////////////////

THE UN REPORT IN FULL:

Courtesy http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/JPIndex.aspx
http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CCPR/C/JPN/CO/6&Lang=En

Human Rights Committee
Concluding observations (2014) CCPR/C/JPN/CO/6
ADVANCE UNEDITED VERSION
Human Rights Committee
Concluding observations on the sixth periodic report of Japan

1. The Committee considered the sixth periodic report submitted by Japan (CCPR/C/JPN/6) at its 3080th and 3081st meetings (CCPR/C/SR.3080 and CCPR/C/SR.3081), held on 15 and 16 July 2014. At its 3091st and 3092nd meetings (CCPR/C/SR.3091, CCPR/C/SR.3092), held on 23 July 2014, it adopted the following concluding observations.

A. Introduction
2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the sixth periodic report of Japan and the information presented therein. It expresses appreciation for the opportunity to renew its constructive dialogue with the State party’s delegation on the measures that the State party has taken during the reporting period to implement the provisions of the Covenant. The Committee is grateful to the State party for its written replies (CCPR/C/JPN/Q/6/Add.1) and supplementary information to the list of issues which were supplemented by the oral responses provided by the delegation and for the supplementary information provided to it in writing.

B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee welcomes the following legislative and institutional steps taken by the State party:
(a) The adoption of Japan’s Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons, in December 2009;
(b) The approval of the Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality, in December 2010;
(c) The amendment of the Publicly-Operated Housing Act in 2012, to the effect that same-sex couples are no longer removed from the publicly-operated housing system;
(d) The amendment of the Nationality Act in 2008 and of the Civil Code in 2013, which removed discriminatory provisions against children born out of wedlock.
4. The Committee welcomes the ratification by the State party of the following international instruments:
(a) Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in 2009;
(b) The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2014.

C. Principal matters of concern and recommendations
Previous concluding observations
5. The Committee is concerned that many of its recommendations made after the consideration of the State party’s fourth and fifth periodic report have not been implemented.
The State party should give effect to the recommendations adopted by the Committee in the present as well as in its previous concluding observations.
Applicability of the Covenant rights by national courts
6. While noting that treaties ratified by the State party have the effect of domestic laws, the Committee is concerned at the restricted number of cases in which the rights protected under the Covenant have been applied by courts (art. 2).
The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation (CCPR/C/JPN/CO/5, para. 7) and calls on the State party to ensure that the application and interpretation of the Covenant forms part of the professional training of lawyers, judges and prosecutors at all levels, including the lower instances. The State party should also ensure that effective remedies are available for violations of the rights protected under the Covenant. The State party should consider acceding to the Optional Protocol to the Covenant providing for an individual communication procedure.
National Human Rights Institution
7. The Committee notes with regret that, since the abandonment in November 2012 of the Human Rights Commission Bill, the State party has not made any progress to establish a consolidated national human rights institution (art. 2).
The Committee recalls its previous recommendation (CCPR/C/JPN/CO/5, para. 9) and recommends the State party to reconsider establishing an independent national human rights institution with a broad human rights mandate, and provide it with adequate financial and human resources, in line with the Paris principles (General Assembly resolution 48/134, annex).
Gender equality
8. The Committee is concerned at the State party’s continuing refusal to amend the discriminatory provisions of the Civil Code that prohibit women to remarry in the six months following divorce and establishes a different age of marriage for men and women, on the grounds that it could “affect the basic concept of the institution of marriage and that of the family” (arts. 2, 3, 23 and 26).
The State party should ensure that stereotypes regarding the roles of women and men in the family and in society are not used to justify violations of women’s right to equality before the law. The State party should, therefore, take urgent action to amend the Civil Code accordingly.
9. While welcoming the adoption of the Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality, the Committee is concerned at the limited impact of this plan in view of the low levels of women carrying out political functions. The Committee regrets the lack of information regarding participation of minority women, including Buraku women, in policy-making positions. It is concerned about reports that women represent 70 percent of the part-time workforce and earn on average 58 percent of the salaries received by men for equivalent work. The Committee also expresses concern at the lack of punitive measures against sexual harassment or dismissals of women due to pregnancy and childbirth (arts. 2, 3 and 26).
The State party should effectively monitor and assess the progress of the Basic Plan for Gender Equality and take prompt action to increase the participation of women in the public sector, including through temporary special measures, such as statutory quotas in political parties. It should take concrete measures to assess and support the political participation of minority women, including Buraku women, promote the recruitment of women as full-time workers and redouble its efforts to close the wage gap between men and women. It should also take the necessary legislative measures to criminalise sexual harassment and prohibit and sanction with appropriate penalties unfair treatment due to pregnancy and childbirth.

Gender-based and domestic violence
10. The Committee regrets that, despite its previous recommendation, the State party has not made any progress to broaden the scope of the definition of rape in the criminal code, to set the age of sexual consent above 13 years, and to prosecute rape and other sexual offences ex officio. It also notes with concern that domestic violence remains prevalent, that the process to issue protection orders is too lengthy and that the number of perpetrators that are punished for this offence is very low. The Committee is further concerned by reports of the insufficient protection provided to same-sex couples and immigrant women (arts. 3, 6, 7 and 26).
In line with the Committee’s previous recommendations (CCPR/C/JPN/CO/5, paras 14 and 15) the State party should take concrete action to prosecute rape and other crimes of sexual violence ex officio, raise without further delay the age of consent for sexual activities, and review the elements of the crime of rape, as established in the Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality. The State party should intensify its efforts to ensure that all reports of domestic violence, including of same-sex couples, are thoroughly investigated, that perpetrators are prosecuted, and if convicted, punished with appropriate sanctions; and that victims have access to adequate protection, including by granting emergency protective orders and preventing immigrant women that are victims of sexual violence from losing their visa status.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
11. The Committee is concerned about reports of social harassment and stigmatisation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons and discriminatory provisions which practically exclude same-sex couples from the municipally-operated housing system (arts. 2 and 26).
The State party should adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation which prohibits discrimination on all grounds, including on sexual orientation and gender identity, and provides victims of discrimination with effective and appropriate remedies. The State party should intensify its awareness raising activities to combat stereotypes and prejudice against LGBT persons, investigate allegations of harassment against LGBT persons and take appropriate measures to prevent them. It should also remove the remaining restrictions in terms of eligibility criteria applied toward same-sex couples with respect to publicly operated housing services at municipal level.

Hate speech and racial discrimination
12. The Committee expresses concern at the widespread racist discourse against members of minority groups, such as Koreans, Chinese or Burakumin, inciting hatred and discrimination against them, and the insufficient protection granted against these acts in the criminal and civil code. The Committee also expresses concern at the high number of extremist demonstrations authorised, the harassment and violence perpetrated against minorities, including against foreign students, as well the open display in private establishments of signs such as “Japanese only” (arts. 2, 19, 20 and 27).
The State should prohibit all propaganda advocating racial superiority or hatred that incites to discrimination, hostility or violence, and should prohibit demonstrations that intended to disseminate such propaganda. The State party should also allocate sufficient resources for awareness-raising campaigns against racism and increase its efforts to ensure that judges, prosecutors and police officials are trained to be able to detect hate and racially motivated crimes. The State party should also take all necessary steps to prevent racist attacks and to ensure that the alleged perpetrators are thoroughly investigated and prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with appropriate sanctions.

Death penalty
13. The Committee remains concerned that several of the 19 capital offences do not comply with the Covenant’s requirement of limiting capital punishment to the « most serious crimes », that death row inmates are still kept in solitary confinement for periods of up to 40 years before execution, and that neither they nor their families are given prior notice before the day of execution. The Committee notes, furthermore, that the confidentiality of meetings between death row inmates and their lawyers is not guaranteed, that the mental examinations regarding whether persons facing execution are “in a state of insanity” are not independent, and that requests of retrial or pardon do not have the effect of staying the execution and are not effective. Moreover, reports that the death penalty has been imposed on various occasions as a result of forced confessions, including in the case of Iwao Hakamada, are a matter of concern (arts. 2, 6, 7, 9 and 14).
The State party should:
(a) Give due consideration to the abolition of death penalty or, in the alternative, reduce the number of eligible crimes for capital punishment to the most serious crimes that result in the loss of life;
(b) Ensure that the death row regime does not amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, by giving reasonable advance notice of the scheduled date and time of execution to death row inmates and their families, and refraining from imposing solitary confinement on death row prisoners unless it is used in the most exceptional circumstances and for strictly limited periods;
(c) Immediately strengthen the legal safeguards against wrongful sentencing to death, inter alia, by guaranteeing to the defense full access to all prosecution materials and ensuring that confessions obtained by torture or ill-treatment are not invoked as evidence;
(d) In light of the Committee’s previous concluding observations (CCPR/C/JPN/CO/5, para. 17), establish a mandatory and effective system of review in capital cases, with suspensive effect of the request for retrial or pardon, and guaranteeing the strict confidentiality of all meetings between death row inmates and their lawyers concerning requests for retrial;
(e) Establish an independent review mechanism of the mental health of the death row inmates;
(f) Consider acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
Sexual slavery practices against “comfort women”

14. The Committee is concerned by the State party’s contradictory position that the “comfort women” were not “forcibly deported» by Japanese military during wartime but that the “recruitment, transportation and management» of these women in comfort stations was done in many cases generally against their will through coercion and intimidation by the military or entities acting on behalf of the military. The Committee considers that any such acts carried out against the will of the victims are sufficient to consider them as human rights violations involving the direct legal responsibility of the State party. The Committee is also concerned about re-victimization of the former comfort women by attacks on their reputations, including some by public officials and some that are encouraged by the State party’s equivocal position. The Committee further takes into account, information that all claims for reparation brought by victims before Japanese courts have been dismissed, and all complaints to seek criminal investigation and prosecution against perpetrators have been rejected on the ground of the statute of limitations. The Committee considers that this situation reflects ongoing violations of the victims’ human rights, as well as a lack of effective remedies available to them as victims of past human rights violations (arts. 2, 7 and 8).
The State party should take immediate and effective legislative and administrative measures to ensure: (i) that all allegations of sexual slavery or other human rights violations perpetrated by Japanese military during wartime against the “comfort women”, are effectively, independently and impartially investigated and that perpetrators are prosecuted and, if found guilty, punished; (ii) access to justice and full reparation to victims and their families; (iii) the disclosure of all evidence available; (iv) education of students and the general public about the issue, including adequate references in textbooks; (v) the expression of a public apology and official recognition of the responsibility of the State party; (vi) condemnation of any attempts to defame victims or to deny the events.

Trafficking in persons
15. While appreciating the efforts made by the State party to address trafficking in persons, the Committee remains concerned about the persistence of this phenomenon, as well as about the low number of prison sentences imposed on perpetrators, the absence of cases of forced labour brought to justice, the decline in victim identification, and the insufficient support granted to victims (art. 8).
In line with the Committee’s previous concluding observations (CCPR/C/JPN/CO/5, para. 23), the State party should:
(a) Enhance victim identification procedures, particularly with regard to victims of forced labour, and provide specialised training to all law enforcement officers, including labour inspectors;
(b) Vigorously investigate and prosecute perpetrators and, when convicted, impose penalties that are commensurate with the seriousness of the acts committed;
(c) Enhance the current victim protection measures, including interpretation services and legal support for claiming compensation.

Technical Intern Training Programme (TITP)
16. The Committee notes with concern that, despite the legislative amendment extending the protection of labour legislation to foreign trainees and technical interns, there are still a large number of reports of sexual abuse, labour-related deaths and conditions that could amount to forced labour in the TITP (art. 2 and 8).
In line with the Committee’s previous concluding observations (CCPR/C/JPN/CO/5, para. 24), the State party should strongly consider replacing the current programme with a new scheme that focuses on capacity building rather than recruiting low-paid labour. In the meantime, the State party should increase the number of on-site inspections, establish an independent complaint mechanism and effectively investigate, prosecute and sanction labour trafficking cases and other labour violations.
Involuntary hospitalization
17. The Committee is concerned that a large number of persons with mental disabilities are subject to involuntary hospitalization on very broad terms and without access to an effective remedy to challenge violations of their rights, and that hospitalization is reportedly prolonged unnecessarily by the absence of alternative services (art. 7 and 9).
The State party should:
(a) Increase community-based or alternative services for persons with mental disabilities;
(b) Ensure that forced hospitalization is imposed only as a last resort, for the minimum period required, and only when necessary and proportionate for the purpose of protecting the person in question from harm or preventing injury to others;
(c) Ensure an effective and independent monitoring and reporting system for mental institutions, aimed at effectively investigating and sanctioning abuses and providing compensation to victims and their families.

Daiyo Kangoku (substitute detention system) and forced confessions
18. The Committee regrets that the State party continues to justify the use of the Daiyo Kangoku on the lack of available resources and on the efficiency of this system for criminal investigations. The Committee remains concerned that the absence of an entitlement to bail or a right to State-appointed counsel prior to the indictment reinforces the risk of extracting forced confessions in Daiyo Kangoku. Moreover, the Committee expresses concern at the absence of strict regulations regarding the conduct of interrogations and regrets the limited scope of mandatory video recording of interrogations proposed in the 2014 “Report for Reform Plan” (arts. 7, 9, 10 and 14).
The State party should take all measures to abolish the substitute detention system or ensure that it is fully compliant with all guarantees in articles 9 and 14 of the Covenant, inter alia, by guaranteeing:
(a) That alternatives to detention, such as bail, are duly considered during pre-indictment detention;
(b) That all suspects are guaranteed the right to counsel from the moment of apprehension and that defence counsel is present during interrogations;
(c) Legislative measures setting strict time-limits for the duration and methods of interrogation, which should be entirely video-recorded;
(d) A complaint review mechanism that is independent of the prefectural public safety commissions and has the authority to promptly, impartially and effectively investigate allegations of torture and ill-treatment during interrogation.

Expulsion and detention of asylum-seekers and undocumented immigrants
19. The Committee expresses concern about reported cases of ill-treatment during deportations, which resulted in the death of a person in 2010. The Committee is also concerned that, despite the amendment to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, the principle of non-refoulement is not implemented effectively in practice. The Committee remains further concerned at the lack of an independent appeal mechanism with suspensive effect against negative decisions on asylum as well as at the prolonged periods of administrative detention without adequate giving of reasons and without independent review of the detention decision (arts. 2, 7, 9 and 13).
The State party should:
(a) Take all appropriate measures to guarantee that immigrants are not subject to ill-treatment during their deportation;
(b) Ensure that all persons applying for international protection are given access to fair procedures for determination and for protection against refoulement, and have access to an independent appeal mechanism with suspensive effect against negative decisions;
(c) Take measures to ensure that detention is resorted to for the shortest appropriate period and only if the existing alternatives to administrative detention have been duly considered and that immigrants are able to bring proceedings before a court that will decide on the lawfulness of their detention.

Surveillance of Muslims
20. The Committee is concerned about reports on widespread surveillance of Muslims by law enforcement officials (arts. 2, 17 and 26).
The State party should:
(a) Train law enforcement personnel on cultural awareness and the inadmissibility of racial profiling, including the widespread surveillance of Muslims by law enforcement officials;
(b) Ensure that affected persons have access to effective remedies in cases of abuse.
Abduction and forced de-conversion
21. The Committee is concerned at reports of abductions and forced confinement of converts to new religious movements by members of their families in an effort to de-convert them (arts. 2, 9, 18, 26).
The State party should take effective measures to guarantee the right of every person not to be subject to coercion which would impair his or her freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief.
Restriction of fundamental freedoms on grounds of “public welfare”
22. The Committee reiterates its concern that the concept of “public welfare” is vague and open-ended and may permit restrictions exceeding those permissible under the Covenant (arts. 2, 18 and 19).
The Committee recalls its previous concluding observations (CCPR/C/JPN/CO/5, para. 10) and urges the State party to refrain from imposing any restriction on the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or freedom of expression unless they fulfil the strict conditions set out in paragraph 3 of articles 18 and 19.
Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets
23. The Committee is concerned that the recently adopted Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets contains a vague and broad definition of the matters that can be classified as secret, general preconditions for classification and sets high criminal penalties that could generate a chilling effect on the activities of journalists and human rights defenders (art. 19).
The State party should take all necessary measures to ensure that the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets and its application conforms to the strict requirements of article 19 of the Covenant, inter alia by guaranteeing that:
(a) The categories of information that could be classified are narrowly defined and any restriction on the right to seek, receive and impart information complies with the principles of legality, proportionality and necessity to prevent a specific and identifiable threat to national security;
(b) No individual is punished for disseminating information of legitimate public interest that does not harm national security.

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster
24. The Committee is concerned that the high threshold of exposure level set by the State party in Fukushima, and the decision to cancel some of the evacuation areas, gives no choice to people but to return to highly contaminated areas (arts. 6, 12 and 19).
The State party should take all the necessary measures to protect the life of the people affected by the nuclear disaster in Fukushima and lift the designation of contaminated locations as evacuation areas only where the radiation level does not place the residents at risk. The State party should monitor the levels of radiation and disclose this information to the people affected in a timely manner.
Corporal punishment
25. The Committee observes that corporal punishment is only prohibited explicitly in schools, and expresses concern at its prevalence and social acceptance (arts. 7 and 24).
The State party should take practical steps, including through legislative measures where appropriate, to put an end to corporal punishment in all settings. It should encourage non-violent forms of discipline as alternatives to corporal punishment, and should conduct public information campaigns to raise awareness about its harmful effects.

Rights of indigenous peoples
26. While welcoming the recognition of the Ainu as an indigenous group, the Committee reiterates its concern regarding the lack of recognition of the Ryukyu and Okinawa as well as of the rights of these groups to their traditional land and resources or the right of their children to be educated in their language (art.27)
The State party should take further steps to revise its legislation and fully guarantee the rights of Ainu, Ryukyu and Okinawa communities to their traditional land and natural resources, ensuring respect for the right to engage in free, prior and informed participation in policies that affect them and facilitate, to the extent possible, education for their children in their own language.
27. The State party should widely disseminate the Covenant, the text of its sixth periodic report, the written replies to the list of issues drawn up by the Committee and the present concluding observations among the judicial, legislative and administrative authorities, civil society and non-governmental organizations operating in the country, as well as the general public.
28. In accordance with rule 71, paragraph 5, of the Committee’s rules of procedure, the State party should provide, within one year, relevant information on its implementation of the Committee’s recommendations made in paragraphs 13, 14, 16 and 18 above.
29. The Committee requests the State party to provide in its next periodic report, due for submission on 31 July 2018, specific, up-to-date information on the implementation of all its recommendations and on the Covenant as a whole. The Committee also requests the State party, when preparing its next periodic report, to broadly consult civil society and non-governmental organizations operating in the country.

ENDS

“No Foreigners” (and no women) Capsule Inn Omiya hotel in Saitama (UPDATE AUG 21: No-foreigner rule withdrawn, but lots more exclusionary hotels found on Rakuten)

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Hi Blog.  Joining the ranks of hundreds of other places nationwide that have “Japanese Only” rules in place is this capsule hotel called “Kapuseru In Ohmiya” in Miyamachi 5-3-1, Ohmiya-ku, Saitama, close to JR Omiya Station East Exit, phone 048-641-4122.  Incidentally, and also in violation of Japan’s Hotel Management Law, it does not allow women to stay there either.  Here’s a screen capture of their entry on Rakuten as of August 18, 2014, with all their contact details.  Courtesy of MF.

(Click on image to expand in your browser.)

Front door with directions there:

JapaneseOnlyCapsuleInnSaitamafront

Entire site with “No Foreigners” and “No Women” rules listed at very bottom:

JapaneseOnlySaitamaCapsuleInn081714

Anyone want to give them a call, and/or to report them to the authorities?  Here’s how.

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE AUGUST 21, 2014:  THEIR RAKUTEN ENTRY HAS REMOVED THE “JAPANESE ONLY” RULE, AMENDED IT TO A “BRING A JAPANESE SPEAKER IF YOU DON’T SPEAK JAPANESE, AS THE STAFF DOESN’T SPEAK FOREIGN LANGUAGES”.  THE “MEN-ONLY” RULE REMAINS. RAKUTEN PAGE SCREEN CAPTURE BELOW:

JapaneseOnlySaitamaCapsuleInnrulerepealed082114

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 14, 2014

eBooks, Books, and more from ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
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Donate towards my web hosting bill!
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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 14, 2014
Table of Contents:

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THE SEISMIC SHOCK OF 2014

1) In a stunning decision, Japan’s Supreme Court overturns Fukuoka High Court, rules that NJ Permanent Residents (etc.) not automatically eligible for social welfare benefits
2) JT: Colin Jones on NJ rights after the Supreme Court welfare verdict of July 2014: None but what MOJ bureaucrats grant you

OTHER WEIRDNESS AND DENIALISM

3) SITYS: JT publishes lawyer’s analysis of J-cops’ arbitrary “stop and frisk” procedures. It’s now actually worse for NJ than Debito.org has reported before (correctly)
4) Unsuccessful protest against instatement of NJ CEO at Takeda Pharma: Note weird narratives of exclusionism
5) Japanese hotel and restaurant bars all Non-Japanese — in Bangalore, India! And it’s shut down by the local Indian govt. within days
6) BLOG BIZ: Debito.org’s Google Page Rank drops from 4 to Zero overnight. Unsure why

NICE TRIES

7) JT: Japan needs to get tough on hate speech: U.N. experts and columnist Eric Johnston; why I doubt that will happen
8 ) AFP: “Tarento Rola changing DNA of Japanese pop culture”. I wish her well, but the hyperbolic hype is not warranted
9) JDriver on J Driver License renewals and questionable legality of residency/Gaijin Card checks to ferret out “illegal overstayers”
10) Asahi’s AERA Mag July 14, 2014: Special on NJ in J globalized companies, says “Offices without NJ will not succeed”. Yet again panders to stereotypes
11) Yomiuri: TV shows to get foreign-language subtitles by 2020 for “foreign visitors” to Tokyo Olympics. Nice, but how about for NJ residents now?

… and finally…

12) Japan Times JBC 77 July 3, 2014,”Complexes continue to color Japan’s ambivalent ties to the outside world”, modified version with links to sources

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By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, twitter @arudoudebito)
Freely forwardable
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THE SEISMIC SHOCK OF 2014

1) In a stunning decision, Japan’s Supreme Court overturns Fukuoka High Court, rules that NJ Permanent Residents (etc.) not automatically eligible for social welfare benefits

In an event sure to make my year-end top ten most important human rights issues of 2014, Japan’s highest court just overturned the Fukuoka High Court’s 2011 decision, ruling that an octogenarian granny who, despite being born in Japan, living her life here as a Zainichi Special Permanent Resident, and contributing to Japan’s social welfare systems, has no right to the benefits of her contributions because she’s foreign (i.e., not “kokumin”). More comment after the articles:

JT: The Supreme Court ruled Friday that foreigners with permanent residency status are ineligible for welfare benefits, overturning a decision by the Fukuoka High Court that had acknowledged their eligibility under the public assistance law. The decision by the top court’s Second Petit Bench concerned a lawsuit filed by an 82-year-old Chinese woman with permanent residency who was born and grew up in Japan. The woman applied for welfare benefits with the Oita municipal office in Oita Prefecture in December 2008 but was denied the benefits on the grounds she had some savings. The woman then filed a suit demanding that the city’s decision be repealed. She is now receiving the benefits because the municipality accepted her welfare application in October 2011. While the recipients of welfare benefits are limited to Japanese nationals by law, the government issued a notice in 1954 saying foreigners should be treated in accordance with the public assistance law. Since the government limited recipients to Japanese nationals and foreigners with permanent residency in 1990, municipalities have exercised their discretion in doling out the benefits. In October 2010, the Oita District Court rejected the plaintiff’s suit, saying that denying the public assistance law to foreigners was within the discretion of a municipal government. In November 2011, however, the Fukuoka High Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, saying that foreigners with permanent residency have been protected under the public assistance law.

COMMENT: And now the pendulum has swung again, with a great big Bronx Cheer for all NJ in Japan. More information on what has appeared on Debito.org over the years in this blog entry.

My final thought on this for now is how the online commenters (who consistently blame NJ for anything bad that happens to them) spin this one against the plaintiff? It’s a challenge: She’s an 82-year-old granny Zainichi living her entire life in Japan trying to get her tax benefits back, for heaven’s sake. Still, the reflexes are kicking in. We’ve already had one person commenting at the Japan Times about how this ruling was a means to deal with “illegal immigrants” somehow (the JT immediately spotted this as trolling and deleted it; wish they would be more proactive with my columns as trolls keep derailing any meaningful debate). Any more gems out there, go ahead and quote them in the Comments section below. A ruling this egregiously anti-NJ becomes an interesting psychological experiment to see how far the self-hating gaijin will go to deny they have any rights to anything whatsoever in Japan.

UPDATE JULY 25, 2014: This very blog entry gets cited in the South China Morning Post.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12530

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2) JT: Colin Jones on NJ rights after the Supreme Court welfare verdict of July 2014: None but what MOJ bureaucrats grant you

Jones in the JT: This newspaper’s well-intentioned July 27 editorial declaring that the social safety net should be for all taxpayers is perfectly understandable — particularly given that the petitioner was an elderly Chinese who was born and spent her whole life here. Unfortunately, it is a mistake to equate feeding the maw of whatever tax-fueled Leviathan nation state you happen to live in with being entitled to anything from it in return. This is particularly true in Japan, where by law it is generally more important that one of your parents be Japanese than where you were born, raised or paid taxes. After all, being a dutiful taxpayer alone won’t get your visa renewed or keep you from getting kicked out of the country; why should it get you a welfare payment either?

Thus, if you live here on a foreign passport, you might want to snuggle up in a comfy chair and read through the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, since for most purposes, that is your constitution. Having its roots in an Occupation-era decree modeled after U.S. immigration laws then in effect (missing some important features, as will be discussed later), the ICRRA did not become a “law” until 1982, when it was amended in connection with Japan’s accession to the U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. I say it is your constitution because in 1978, the Supreme Court acknowledged that most constitutional protections did extend to foreigners, but only within the framework of the immigration laws and regulations, including the broad administrative discretion granted by these to Ministry of Justice officials.

COMMENT: What I’d like to have clarified is Colin’s point about whether or not people (particularly non-citizen permanent residents) who pay taxes really have no rights to expect the benefits from The State. Let me ask Debito.org Readers to assist me in doing a little research. Let’s find some law journals and other academic research written by specialists that give comparative rights for non-citizen residents in an international light. Here are two research questions:

1) Are non-citizen residents (particularly permanent residents, as taxpayers) entitled to the same social welfare benefits (e.g., unemployment, child support, and other safety-net measures designed to rescue citizens from destitution) in other developed countries? (Let’s say the G8, or widen it out to the OECD if necessary.)

2) Do guarantees of civil and human rights guaranteed in the national constitutions of developed countries also apply to “all people/residents”, including non-citizens, or are they strictly reserved for citizens, as they apparently are in Japan?

Note that we are not looking for absolute equality (that’s impossible, otherwise there would be no benefit to citizenship). But simply put: Do foreign residents receive the same guarantee against various social adversities elsewhere as a legally-enshrined human right, or not? Please send us some links to some articles in the comments section, with pertinent excerpts/abstracts included.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12566

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OTHER WEIRDNESS AND DENIALISM

3) SITYS: JT publishes lawyer’s analysis of J-cops’ arbitrary “stop and frisk” procedures. It’s now actually worse for NJ than Debito.org has reported before (correctly)

DEBITO: Hokay, let’s go over this issue one more time on Debito.org (the previous times from here): the ability of J-cops to racially profile and subject any “foreigner” to arbitrary Gaijin Card ID-checks. I offered advice about what to do about it (print and carry the actual laws around with you and have them enforced). Last time I talked about this (in my Japan Times column last April), I noted how laws had changed with the abolition of the Foreign Registry Law, but the ability for cops to arbitrarily stop NJ has actually continued unabated. In fact, it’s expanded to bag searches and frisking, with or without your permission (because, after all, NJ might be carrying knives or drugs, not just expired visas). Well, as if doubting the years of research that went into this article (and affirmed by an Japanese Administrative Solicitor in our book HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS), the JT put up a “featured comment” from some anonymous poster saying that my article was wrong and a source for misinformation:

MM333: I’m sorry, but the information in this article and on the website describing the powers of the police to stop foreigners and demand passports or residence cards for any reason ‘whenever’ is inaccurate. The law does not give the police in Japan arbitrary powers to conduct suspicionless questioning. […] There is no doubt that in practice police in every country may try to exceed their powers, but it is quite another thing to assert that the police actually have the right to do this. In may interest people to know that the laws imposed on the police in Japan with regards to questioning are actually more restrictive as compared with the US (ie. Stop and Frisk) or the UK (ie. CJPOA Section 60). I would recommend that everyone read the law themselves and consult a Japanese attorney if they have questions about the law. I would also ask the Japan times to have this article reviewed by a Japanese attorney and corrections made where appropriate to avoid misinformation being spread.

DEBITO: Eventually the JT DID consult a lawyer and ran the following article — where it’s even worse than I argued: The lawyer is essentially suggesting that you had better cooperate with the police because the laws will not protect you — especially if you’re in a “foreigner zone” of Tokyo like Roppongi.

JT LAWYER ISHIZUKA: Legal precedents in these cases have tended to stress the importance of balancing the public’s right to privacy with the necessity and urgency of the specific investigation and the public interest in preventing the crime the individual stopped by the police was suspected of being involved in. […] Regarding the profiling, considering it was in Roppongi, which has a bit of a reputation for crime involving foreigners, the police officials could probably come up with a number of explanations for why they stopped [a NJ named P], such as a suspicion that he was carrying or selling drugs. It is unlikely that any judge would rule that this was a case of profiling and that the questioning was illegal. As for the frisking, it was legal for the officers to pat P down over his clothes and bag, even without his consent. However, it would be illegal if an officer searched inside P’s pockets or clothing without consent or intentionally touched his genital area, even over his clothes. […]

So, in conclusion, what can you do if you are approached and questioned by police officers? Cooperating may be the smartest option and the fastest way to get the whole ordeal over as quickly as possible, but if you don’t feel like being cooperative, you can try asking the police officers what crime they are investigating and attempt to explain that you are not doing anything illegal, clearly express the will to leave and then do just that. Don’t touch the police officers, don’t run and don’t stop walking — and don’t forget to turn on the recorder on your smartphone in front of the officers, thus making it clear that you have evidence of any untoward behavior. You cannot be forced to turn the recorder off, no matter what the police officers yell at you. Best of luck!

DEBITO AGAIN: You know there’s something seriously wrong with a system when legally all you have is luck (and a cell phone recorder) to protect you from official arbitrary questioning, search, seizure, and racial profiling by Japanese cops. Even a lawyer says so. So that’s definitive, right? Now, then, JT, what misinformation was being spread here by my previous article? How about trusting people who give their actual names, and have legal experience and a verified research record (several times before in past JT articles)? And how about deleting that misinformative “featured comment” to my column? SITYS.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12536

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4) Unsuccessful protest against instatement of NJ CEO at Takeda Pharma: Note weird narratives of exclusionism

Japan’s largest drug maker, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., last month tapped a NJ (a Frenchman by the name of Cristophe Weber) to be its next CEO. This occasioned protests by the founding Takeda family and dissident shareholders, because hiring a NJ to be its leader would allegedly be abhorrent.

Relativism first: We’ve of course had protests and government interventions in other countries when foreigners buy up a strategically-important company. (Let me date myself: I remember the Westland helicopters scandal when I was living in England back in the 1980s!) So business xenophobia is not unique to Japan, of course.

But check out the narratives of justification for the exclusionism being proffered with straight faces:

A NJ CEO of a Japanese company would be “bad for the morale of Japanese employees”. (Why?)
A NJ CEO would necessarily result in “technological transfer overseas” (i.e., NJ are untrustworthy).
This would mean “finances or research and development would be entrusted to NJ” (Would it? This is an unaccountable dictatorship? This is not an issue of NJ-dom: Remember the corruption of the Olympus case, and they were all Japanese at the helm — until a NJ became the whistleblower.)
A NJ CEO is tantamount to a hostile “takeover by foreign capital” (again, those trust issues).
This particular NJ is unknowledgable of Japan’s health care industry of the “traditions and corporate culture” of Takeda (i.e., NJ are ignorant about Japan and Japan’s permutations of industry).

Imagine those arguments being made if a Japanese helmed an overseas company (we already had a Japanese in 2009 placed at the helm of, for example, the Japan Society in New York — an organization founded in 1907 by powerful Americans to explore Japanese society). Accusations of racism would probably fly. But in Japan, not so much. These knee-jerk exclusionary discourses are that hegemonic.

Anyway, the exclusionists (who only hold 1-2% of total shares, so they’re basically soukaiya) did not win out, and Weber became CEO. Nyah. Some referential articles about the Takeda Pharma Case follow.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12499

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5) Japanese hotel and restaurant bars all Non-Japanese — in Bangalore, India! And it’s shut down by the local Indian govt. within days

This case you might have heard about already, but in terms that Debito.org has talked about for decades, there are no surprises here: A “Japanese Only” Japanese restaurant has been discovered turning away “foreigners” in a foreign land — India. Well, turning away all “non-Japanese”. Because, you see, “Japanese” is not a function of nationality. It’s a function of racialized tribalism.

In other words, no matter where you are in the world, under Japanese binary sensibilities, there are two types of people: Japanese and NJ — not Japanese and “foreigners”. Overseas, Japanese technically become foreigners. But not in exported Japanese contexts such as Japanese restaurants. So again, Japanese society’s exclusionary view of the world anytime, anywhere, becomes perfectly understandable when looked at through this binary rubric.

Fortunately, not all societies let this sort of racism pass without comment or sanction. And India, despite being saddled with a horrible caste system, is no exception. Within weeks after exposure, it was partially shut down after notice from the Greater Bangalore City Corporation on explicit charges of racial discrimination — something Japan simply cannot do. Articles follow.

Bangalore Mirror: Unabashedly racist, Uno-In Hotel bars all other nationals; ironically, its head and staff are Indians. The hotel makes no bones about it. Its website categorically states: Located in Bangalore, we are a hotel exclusively for Japanese. Situated on Langford Cross Road in Shanthinagar, Hotel Uno-In, which also houses a Japanese rooftop restaurant called Teppen, has a policy of not allowing access to Indians, or for that matter, any other non-Japanese nationals. […] Based on an incident that happened a few months back, these reporters visited the hotel with a colleague and got a first-hand taste of the discriminatory attitude. The moment they stepped foot into the lobby and expressed a desire to have lunch at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant Teppen, they were told ‘Indians’ were not allowed. Below is a transcript of the recorded conversation that took place with Nic U Iqbal, MD and CEO of Nippon Infrastructure which runs the hotel…

Mail Online India: A ‘Japanese only’ hotel, which allegedly did not entertain Indians and other foreign nationals in its restaurant, has been closed down by the Greater Bangalore City Corporation (GBCC) on charges of racial discrimination.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12484

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6) BLOG BIZ: Debito.org’s Google Page Rank drops from 4 to Zero overnight. Unsure why

Debito.org Reader: Debito, I could be in error, but it looks like your Google page rank has been reduced from 4 to 0. I would talk to someone who knows about this stuff and ask them what’s up. If I am correct, you should regard that as a serious issue. It’s a mystery to me: I use a Safari on my mac. There’s a plug-in that gives you page rank, so I always see it when I visit a site: http://any-tech.ws/page-rank/

I think yours has always been 4 or 5. Perhaps 5, which is *really* good for a site like yours. I don’t recall ever seeing another site’s ranking just suddenly disappear. It could just be a glitch. But I doubled checked this — and your page rank is not showing up anywhere: http://checkpagerank.net/index.php

(Screen capture of Google Page Rank according to the above link as of July 5, 2014: still zero)

My best suggestion would be to check Google’s webmasters toolkit. If you don’t have an account, I would create one, it’s very helpful. Often they will tell you if there is a problem.

[NB: I have done this. The Google web masters toolkit has indicated after a scan that there is nothing problematic about this site, and thus offer no avenue for query or appeal to Google.]

Your page rank is an important factor in how well your site ranks in search engines. It’s not the *only* factor — but it’s the one most closely related to your web authority. If this *just* happened — you might not notice an immediate impact, but over time the traffic you receive from Google would begin to decline.

If you are the *only* person with a webpage about a particular topic, you’ll continue to rank in Google’s search engine. If you and 100 other sites are taking on the same topic, you’ll fall to the bottom of the list. You have a massive archive, so on many topics, *only* you have a page — you’ll get traffic on those pages. But on competitive topics, your traffic will fall off. Does that make sense? Unless this is all a weird glitch. In which case maybe nothing will happen. You could just monitor it for a while … Sincerely, a Debito.org Reader.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12492

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NICE TRIES

7) JT: Japan needs to get tough on hate speech: U.N. experts and columnist Eric Johnston; why I doubt that will happen

JIJI: Japan came under pressure at a U.N. meeting Tuesday to do more to help stop hate speech that promotes discrimination by race or nationality. “According to information we received, there have been more than 360 cases of racist demonstrations and speeches in 2013, mainly in Korean neighborhoods in Tokyo,” Yuval Shany from Israel, one of the experts at the U.N. Human Rights Committee, said at the meeting in Geneva. Shany asked Japan whether it is considering adopting legislation to address hate and racist speech. Existing laws in Japan do not allow police to intervene to stop hate speech demonstrations, Shany said at the meeting held to review the civil and political rights situation in Japan. “It seems almost nothing has been done by the government to react to Japanese-only signs which have been posted in a number of places,” Shany said.

Kyodo: The Osaka High Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that branded as “discriminatory” demonstrations staged near a pro-Pyongyang Korean school by anti-Korean activists who used hate-speech slogans. A three-judge high court panel turned down an appeal by the Zaitokukai group against the Kyoto District Court decision ordering that it pay about ¥12 million in damages to the school operator, Kyoto Chosen Gakuen. The order also banned the group from staging demonstrations near the school in Minami Ward, Kyoto.

Johnston: The good news is that, finally, more and more people in Osaka and the Kansai region are fighting back against the haters. Counter-demonstrations against Zaitokukai in particular are increasing. At the same time, there is a feeling among many here that, as Osaka and Korea have a deep ties, things will work themselves out. But that’s the problem. What’s needed now is not “historical perspective,” “understanding” or “respect,” but legislation ensuring protection and punishment. This is precisely because perspective, understanding and respect alone will not stop hate speech — especially that directed at new groups or those who have not traditionally been as ostracized as ethnic minorities.

AFP: A far-right Polish MEP outraged lawmakers gathered in the European Parliament on Wednesday by comparing the continent’s unemployed youth to “niggers” in the U.S. South. […] Comparing job-seeking youth to black laborers in the American South during the 1960s, Korwin-Mikke said: “Four millions humans lost jobs. Well, it was four million niggers. But now we have 20 millions Europeans who are the Negroes of Europe.

Grauniad: A former local election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) in France has been sentenced to nine months in prison for comparing the country’s justice minister, who is black, to an ape. […] On Tuesday, a court in Cayenne, French Guiana’s capital, sentenced her to nine months in jail, banned her from standing for election for five years, and imposed a €50,000 (£39,500) fine. French Guiana is an overseas département of France and is inside the European Union. It also handed the FN a €30,000 fine, putting an end to a case brought by French Guiana’s Walwari political party, founded by Taubira.

COMMENT: So there is precedent, example, template, and international embarrassment. Will this result in a law in Japan against hate speech (ken’o hatsugen)? I say again: not in the foreseeable future, sadly. As noted on Debito.org many times, we have had all four of these pressures in Japan for decades now (not to mention an international treaty signed in specific), yet we still can’t get a law against racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu) in Japan.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12526

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8 ) AFP: “Tarento Rola changing DNA of Japanese pop culture”. I wish her well, but the hyperbolic hype is not warranted

AFP: In celebrity-obsessed Japan with its conveyor belt of 15-minute stars, fashion model and “talent” Rola is blazing a meteoric trail at the forefront of a galaxy of mixed-race stars changing the DNA of Japanese pop culture. Turn on the TV and there’s no escaping the bubbly 24-year-old of Bengali, Japanese and Russian descent—she even dominates the commercial breaks. A marketing gold mine, Rola smiles down celestially from giant billboards, her wide eyes and girlie pout grace magazine covers and she even greets you at vending machines. But Rola, who settled in Japan when she was nine, has done it by turning the entertainment industry on its head, her child-like bluntness slicing through the strict convention that governs Japanese society.

JPN_GUY: The positive reaction to mixed-race models is certainly better than not wanting them on screen. It’s “anti-racist” and to be welcomed. To a certain extent, I guess it does show Japan is becoming more open and tolerant. But like most things, it’s not that simple. For one thing, all these women are stunning beautiful. Everyone loves a good-looking girl. We knew that already! But not all mixed race people in Japan could, or even want to be, celebrities. Kids like mine just want normal lives. They might want to be a lawyer, a pilot, a shipbuilding engineer or a dental technician. As I said, the high visibility of mixed-race people in better than being vilified and ignored, for sure. But it’s also a sign of fetishism, and a refusal to see mixed race people as just “one of us”. Celebrities are “special” by definition. Ironically, that’s why visible minorities have less difficulty breaking into this field.

DEBITO: Of course, most “tarento” blaze and then fizzle without making any real impact, least of all “changing the DNA Japanese pop culture” as this article and its pundits claim. Rola in particular does not seem to be consciously promoting any increase in social tolerance of “haafu” — she’s just doing her thing, entertaining with a new (or actually, not all that new, but for now fresh-sounding) schtick as an ingenue. Of course. That’s her role as an entertainer. This has been the role of so many other entertainers, including the Kents (Kent Derricott made his pile and returned to the US to buy his mansion on the hill in Utah for his family; Kent Gilbert did much the same and lives in Tokyo with a residence in Utah as well), Leah Dizon (remember her?, already divorced from the Japanese guy who made the baby bump the speed bump in her career; she’s trying to make a comeback in Japan while based in Las Vegas), Bob Sapp, Chuck Wilson, and many, many more that I’m sure Debito.org readers will recount in comments below.

Sadly, none of these people have really made or will make a long-term impact on Japan’s mediascape. The best long-seller remains Dave Spector, who is a very, very exceptional person in terms of persistence and media processing (not to mention stellar language ability), but even he makes little pretense about being anything more than an “American entertainer” for hire. Other impactful persons I can think of are Peter Barakan and perhaps these people here. So it’s not non-existent. But it’s not powerful enough to permit “Doubles” to control their self-image in Japan, either.

I wish Rola well. I hope she continues to make the media splash she’s making. But the overhype can be fatal for many an entertainer when people eventually tire of her current incarnation. Even if Rola becomes “successful” by revamping her act to become more substantial, she’ll just be as subsumed and co-oped as Miyazawa Rie or Becky is. Or as forgotten as Leah Dizon within a few years. Let’s hope not, and let’s hope that she becomes a long seller. But I doubt it. Because the ingenue trail she is blazing (or rather, is being blazed for her by her agents) of the “sexy-baby-voice tarento” genre has never really allowed for that.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12520

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9) JDriver on J Driver License renewals and questionable legality of residency/Gaijin Card checks to ferret out “illegal overstayers”

We’ve discussed on Debito.org before the rigmarole of NJ drivers in Japan getting J Driver Licenses, being subjected to extra intrusive procedures that are of questionable legality. Well, a Debito.org Reader decided to do his civic duty and ask for some reasons why. And this is what he found out. Read on and feel free to contribute your own experiences.

JDriver: As you might know, residents of foreign citizenship (外国籍の方 in the bureaucratic parlance) are required to show their residence cards or in other way demonstrate their status of residence when getting or renewing their drivers license. Obedient citizen as I am, of course I went along with it and presented it when asked, but I did make clear I would like to be clarified on the legal basis for such a request. I didn’t expect that the person doing the registration would know something like this off the top of their head, but I was intended on talking to someone eventually who could point to this and that paragraph of this or that law that governs these circumstances.

So after all the procedure was finished and I got my license, I went to the window I was told I’d get my questions answered. The first person could only, after quite a while, produce the Immigration law article 23, which only says that you are in general required to present the passport or the residence card when the police and other authorities ask for it “in the execution of their duties.” So I asked for a specific law or ordinance that shows that in this concrete case it is indeed their duty to ask for the card. I got sent to her boss, who again only wasted my time with the same answer (Immigration law) and got irritated and dismissed me, but not before arranging for me to see the final boss of bosses, who should be able to answer my, I thought very simple, question i.e. what is the legal basis for what you’re doing?

Neither the last guy could legitimize the demand in legal terms, so we agreed that he will research it and call me later to let me know. He did call later the same day, only to tell me that after all, the legal basis would have to be in the Immigration law, because he couldn’t find any other! He said it is all done to prevent the “illegal overstayers” from getting drivers license, as if that, or any other goal, would justify working outside of legal framework. I was flabbergasted that apparently no one in the whole Koto drivers center (江東試験場) knew the legal basis of their actions…

http://www.debito.org/?p=12515

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10) Asahi’s AERA Mag July 14, 2014: Special on NJ in J globalized companies, says “Offices without NJ will not succeed”. Yet again panders to stereotypes

On the heels of our prior discussion about the Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s “scandal” about having the audacity to put a NJ as CEO of the company (shock horror! Think of how much the company will be compromised!, was the narrative), here’s a special issue by left-leaning AERA magazine of July 14, put out by the (left-and-right-leaning, depending on the editor) Asahi News Corp, on Japan’s “global companies”. Its big headline is that offices that are not multinational in terms of staff “will not succeed”. (Somebody tell that to Takeda Pharma’s xenophobes!) [scan of magazine banner enclosed]

You might think this is a forward-thinking move, but AERA also resorts to the same old media tropes about NJ. For example, it puns on the seminal TV show of more than a decade ago called “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo, Nihonjin” with a bit on “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo, Japanese workplaces”. Not to appear dated, it also refers to Koko Ga Hen’s current incarnation “YOU Wa Nani Shi Ni NIhon E” (What did YOU [sic] come to Japan to do?), with a poll of twenty (a scientifically-significant sample!! /sarcasm) real-live NJ residents of Japan saying what they find unsatisfactory about Japan. There’s also a discussion between two J pundits on immigration (yep; how about polling an immigrant?), a comparison between NJ transplant schools modeled on the Indian, Chinese, and Canadian education systems (why? dunno), and the coup de grace — the influential Oguri Saori manga “Darling wa Gaikokujin” being riffed on to talk about “Darling wa Damenzu Gaikokujin”.

This is about J women marrying NJ “Wrong men” (from a manga title, a polyglot word of Dame (J) and Mens (E?)) who are penniless, unfaithful, or violent (and in this case, according to AERA, from less-economically-developed countries, viz. the newly-coined word “kakusa-kon”, or economically-tiered marriages), because the NJ get a visa, and the women get the relief (iyashi) of having less to lose (financially or materially) after the breakup. Whaa….?

Yep, even when we resort to the hackneyed stereotypical tropes (gotta love the swarthy smitten NJ in the illustration; clearly by the skin tone there’s kakusa there), we still have to pander to prejudices by including some nasty ones.

There’s more up there, so other comments? Mine is that even if J companies take things to heart and hire more NJ employees, I’m worried that 1) like before, it’ll only be on a “contingency” basis (to take the NJ out for a test drive, meaning the hiring process is two-tiered and unequal, with less job security for the NJ), and 2) it’ll just happen because it’s “trendy”. NJ have been hired as “pet gaijin” (as was common practice during the “Bubble Years”; I know) to show off how “international” the company has become, without ever allowing NJ employees to play any real part in the company’s future. Just plonking NJ in your office doesn’t necessarily mean much (until NJ become, for example, managers). And when they do, the Takeda-styled soukaiya mentioned last blog entry will no doubt protest it anyway (if not fire you for doing the right thing about J-boss corruption, a la Olympus).

Sorry to rain on what may be a positive trend (I’d much rather have them acknowledge that J companies cannot remain insular than not, of course), but I’m not sure AERA is encouraging real non-insularity. Especially when even they can’t keep the discussion serious and refrain from painting NJ with negative stereotypes.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12503

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11) Yomiuri: TV shows to get foreign-language subtitles by 2020 for “foreign visitors” to Tokyo Olympics. Nice, but how about for NJ residents now?

KM: Hi Debito! Here’s another indication that the government cares more about short-term visitors than about the foreigners who actually live here:

Yomiuri: The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry will develop a system to show Japanese TV programs with subtitles in foreign languages, including English and Chinese, to provide a more comfortable viewing experience for foreign visitors, according to sources. In response to the increasing number of visitors from overseas, the envisaged system will be launched by 2020, the year in which the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held, the sources said. Behind the ministry’s decision were requests from foreign visitors for more foreign-language subtitles for domestic TV programs. The envisaged system will be offered for news programs related to visitors’ safety and security during their stay, as well as variety shows.

KM: I have a few thoughts about this:

1) It probably would be nice to have more programing with English subtitles (and subtitles in other languages) but I’m a bit surprised that such a huge adjustment to daily programing in Japan would be made on behalf of those visiting short-term for the olympics. Of course, it would be open to anyone but the article (and a similar article in Japanese) makes it sound like the olympics and the comments of short-term visitors are primary motivations for the change.

2) The article says that Japanese content will be “automatically translated by a system to produce the foreign-language subtitles.” Such subtitles might be intelligible for things like a weather forecast, but I can’t imagine them being of much use (except as something to laugh at — because of their poor quality) with variety programs.

3) Instead of making a major adjustment like this to satisfy the whims of short-term visitors, perhaps the money to make this change could be spent to improve the quality of disaster information and disaster warning systems for people who actually live here.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12539

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… and finally…

12) Japan Times JBC 77 July 3, 2014,”Complexes continue to color Japan’s ambivalent ties to the outside world”, modified version with links to sources

Opening paragraphs: Hang around Japan long enough and you’re bound to hear the refrain that the Japanese have an inferiority complex (rettōkan) towards “Westerners” (ōbeijin).

You’ll hear, for example, that Japanese feel a sense of akogare (adoration) towards them, wishing Japanese too had longer legs, deeper noses, lighter and rounder eyes, lighter skin, etc. You’ll see this reflected in Japan’s advertising angles, beauty and whitening products, and cosmetic surgery.

This can be quite ingratiating and disarming to the (white) foreigners being flattered, who have doubtless heard complementary refrains in Western media about how the short, humble, stoic Japanese are so shy, self-deprecating and appreciative.

But people don’t seem to realize that inferiority complexes have a dark side: They justify all kinds of crazy beliefs and behavior…

http://www.debito.org/?p=12487

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That’s all for this month. But the next Newsletter will no doubt be a bit briefer, as my next JT out in only a couple of weeks. Thanks for reading!

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 14, 2014 ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 78, August 14, 2014, “Past victimhood blinds Japan to present-day racial discrimination”

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Hi Blog.  Here’s my August Japan Times column, bumped a week due to Colin Jones’s excellent column on the topic I open up with.

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Past victimhood blinds Japan to present-day racial discrimination
Like the abused who then go on to abuse, Japan is too psychologically scarred to see discrimination going on within its borders
BY DEBITO ARUDOU

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 78, August 14, 2014

Readers may be expecting this column to have something to say about the Supreme Court decision of July 18, which decreed that non-Japanese (NJ) residents are not guaranteed social welfare benefits.

But many have already expressed shock and outrage on these pages, pointing out the injustice of paying into a system that may choose to exclude them in their time of need. After all, no explicit law means no absolute guarantee of legal protection, no matter what court or bureaucratic precedents may have been established.

I’m more surprised by the lack of outrage at a similar legal regime running parallel to this: Japan’s lack of a law protecting against racial discrimination (RD). It affects people on a daily basis, yet is accepted as part of “normal” unequal treatment in Japan — and not just of noncitizens, either.

This brings me to an argument I wanted to round off from last month’s column, about how Japan has a hard time admitting RD ever happens here. Some argue it’s because RD does not befit Japan’s self-image as a “civilized” society. But I would go one step further (natch) and say: RD makes people go crazy.

First, let me establish the “hard time admitting it” bit. (Apologies for reprising some old ground.)

As covered in past columns, Japan’s government and media are seemingly allergic to calling discriminatory treatment based upon skin color or “foreign” appearance racial discrimination (specifically, jinshu sabetsu).

For example, take the Otaru onsen case (1993-2005), which revolved around “Japanese only” signs barring entry to hot springs in Otaru, Hokkaido, to anyone who didn’t “look Japanese” enough (including this writer). Only one major Japanese media source, out of hundreds that reported on it, referred to jinshu sabetsu as an objective fact of the case (rather than reporting it as one side’s claim) — even after both the Sapporo district and high courts unequivocally adjudged it as such.

Public discourse still shies away from the term. That is why the reaction to the “Japanese only” banner displayed at the Urawa Reds soccer game in March was such a landmark. After initial wavering (and the probable realization that the World Cup was approaching), the team’s management, the J. League and the media in general specifically called it out as jinshu sabetsu, then came down on it with unprecedented severity.

Bravo. Thank you. But so far, it’s the exception that proves the rule.

This see-no-evil attitude even affects scholarship on Japan, as I discovered during my doctoral dissertation literature review. Within the most-cited sources reviewing discrimination in Japan, not one listed “skin color” as among Japan’s discriminatory stigmata, or included RD as a factor (calling it instead discrimination by nationality, ethnicity, ingrained cultural practice, etc.). Indicatively, none of them (except some obscure law journal articles) mentioned the Otaru onsen ruling either.

Now peer into Japan’s education system. Jinshu sabetsu happens anywhere but Japan. The prototypical examples are the American South under segregation and apartheid-era South Africa. But homogeneous Japan, the argument runs, has no races, therefore it cannot logically practice racial discrimination. (Again, the Otaru onsen ruling disproves that. But, again, see no evil.)

So why can’t Japan own up? Because RD inflicts such deep psychological wounds that whole societies do irrational, paranoid and crazy things.

Consider this: Harvard University anthropologist Ayu Majima, whose chapter in Rotem Kowner and Walter Demel’s 2013 book “Race and Racism in Modern East Asia” I cited last month, also discussed the aftermath of the United States’ Asian exclusion policy of 1924 — under which Japan, despite all its attempts to “Westernize” and “de-Asianize” itself, was subordinated as a “colored” nation.

Japan’s public reaction was (understandably) furious, and visceral. The Kokumin Shimbun called it “a national dishonor” and demanded that U.S.-Japan ties be severed. In the words of one liberal Japanese journalist at the time: “Discrimination from the United States was due to regarding the Japanese as a colored people. This is a disgrace to the most delicate matter of the Japanese ethnic pride.”

Public outcry morphed into mass hysteria, including countless letters to the government urging war on America. Several people even committed suicide outside the American Embassy!

Although these events subsided, Japan’s elites never let go of this slur. The Japanese ambassador wrote the U.S. secretary of state, saying that the issue was “whether Japan as a nation is or is not entitled to the proper respect” that forms “the basis of amicable international intercourse throughout the civilized world.” Emperor Hirohito later called the act “a remote cause of the Pacific War.” It has also been connected to Japan’s rejection of the West and invasion of Manchuria.

See how crazy RD makes people? Mass hysteria? Calls for war? Suicides? International isolation? Invading China?

RD also psychologically wounds people to the point that it can feed illogical exceptionalism, denialism and perpetual victim status.

It short-circuits the ability to run self-diagnostics and see the fundamental hypocrisy behind the idea that, for example, Japanese are perpetual victims of RD, but rarely, if ever, perpetrators of it — as if Japan is somehow an exception from the racialization processes that happen in every society.

Seriously. During Japan’s colonial era, when Japan was “liberating” and colonizing its neighbors under the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, officials argued that under Japan’s Pan-Asianism, where (unlike Western colonization) her new subjects were of the same skin color, Japan could not practice “racism” in the Western sense.

Source:  Oguma Eiji, A Genealogy of “Japanese” Self-Images, 2002, pg. 332-3.

But the historical record indicates that Japan’s colonized subalterns were subordinated and exploited like any racialized minority — something Japan’s similarly psychologically-wounded neighbors have never forgotten.

Then, in the postwar period, Japan’s national narrative mutated from “heterogeneous Asian colonizer” to “pure homogeneous society.” How did official illogic accommodate this shift? Again, with fallacious ideas such as “Japan has no races, therefore it cannot possibly practice racism.”

This claim is easily disproven by pointing to the country’s “Japanese only” signs. But then what happens? Relativism, denialism and counterattack.

Either deniers repeat that Japan has no RD (patently false; again, that pesky Otaru onsen case), or they argue that everyone else in the world is racist and Japanese have been victims of it (citing wartime examples such as the U.S. and Canadian Japanese internment camps, or the atomic bombings) — as if racism is just how the world naturally functions, and two wrongs make a right.

Then the focus turns on you. You face accusations of racism for overgeneralizing about Japan (e.g., with the counterargument that only a few places post “Japanese only” signs — just don’t point out the standard practice of denying NJ apartments . . .). Or you are charged with being remiss for not acknowledging the “positive discrimination” that “esteemed NJ” get (some, that is), and that positive discrimination somehow compensates for and justifies the negative. Then the debate gets tangled in red herrings.

But the point is that the reaction will be as swift, clear and visceral as it was way back when. The milder accusations will be of cultural insensitivity, Japan-bashing or Japan-hating. But as you get closer to the heart of the matter, and the incontrovertible evidence moves from anecdotal to statistical, you’ll be ostracized, slandered, harassed by Japan’s shadowy elements, stalked and issued death threats. Believe me, I know.

Again, racism is not seen as something that “civilized” countries like Japan would do. To call it out is to question Japan’s level of civilization. And it conjures up an irrational denialism wrapped within a historical narrative of racialized victimization.

Thus Japan’s constant self-victimization leads to paranoia and overreaction (justifying even more tangential craziness, such as defenses of whaling and dolphin culls, international child kidnappings after divorce, and historical amnesia) due in part to fears of being besmirched and discriminated against again. Like a jilted suitor heartbroken by an exotic lover, Japan thus takes extreme precautions to avoid ever being hurt again — by forever forsaking close, equal and potentially vulnerable relationships with anyone with a whiff of the exotic.

Until Japan gets over itself and accepts that racialization processes are intrinsic to every society, it will never resolve its constant and unwarranted exceptionalism. Bigots must be dealt with, not denied or justified. Like the abused who becomes the abuser, Japanese society is simply too psychologically damaged by RD to stop its RD.

This remains the fundamental hurdle Japanese society must overcome before it can empathize fully with outsiders as fellow equal human beings. As was evident in last month’s Supreme Court ruling.

There — now you have my comment on it.

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Debito Arudou’s most recent publication is the Hokkaido and Tohoku Chapters in Fodor’s 2014 Japan travel guide. Twitter: @arudoudebito. An excerpt of Ayu Majima’s chapter can be read at www.debito.org/?p=12122, and more of Debito’s analysis of the Supreme Court ruling at www.debito.org/?p=12530. Just Be Cause usually appears in print on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments: community@japantimes.co.jp

Colin Jones on NJ rights after the Supreme Court welfare verdict of July 2014: None but what MOJ bureaucrats grant you

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Hello Blog. In what is for me the best JT article of the year (and well worth bumping my JBC column to next week), Colin Jones lifts the lid off Japanese constitutional and legal history and shows definitively the evolution of rights for non-citizens (or lack thereof). Occasioned by the recent Japan Supreme Court verdict which states that NJ are not guaranteed social welfare, the article’s upshot is this:

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Think you’ve got rights as a foreigner in Japan? Well, it’s complicated
The Japan Times, August 6, 2014, BY COLIN P.A. JONES

Excerpt: This newspaper’s well-intentioned July 27 editorial declaring that the social safety net should be for all taxpayers is perfectly understandable — particularly given that the petitioner was an elderly Chinese who was born and spent her whole life here. Unfortunately, it is a mistake to equate feeding the maw of whatever tax-fueled Leviathan nation state you happen to live in with being entitled to anything from it in return. This is particularly true in Japan, where by law it is generally more important that one of your parents be Japanese than where you were born, raised or paid taxes. After all, being a dutiful taxpayer alone won’t get your visa renewed or keep you from getting kicked out of the country; why should it get you a welfare payment either?

Thus, if you live here on a foreign passport, you might want to snuggle up in a comfy chair and read through the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, since for most purposes, that is your constitution. Having its roots in an Occupation-era decree modeled after U.S. immigration laws then in effect (missing some important features, as will be discussed later), the ICRRA did not become a “law” until 1982, when it was amended in connection with Japan’s accession to the U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. I say it is your constitution because in 1978, the Supreme Court acknowledged that most constitutional protections did extend to foreigners, but only within the framework of the immigration laws and regulations, including the broad administrative discretion granted by these to Ministry of Justice officials.

So, you can pay your taxes, participate in that anti-nuclear demonstration and maybe even have a run-in or two with the cops, but at the end of the day your ability to live in Japan may ultimately be at the discretion of a bureaucrat’s view of some of the very subjective standards set forth in the immigration laws and regulations, such as whether you have been “good” or “engaged in the activities related to your residence status.” In my experience bureaucrats are generally nice, and most of the time it is probably more work for them to kick you out than to let you stay, particularly if you have a Japanese spouse and/or children. But it is probably safer to assume that you do not have any right to be in Japan; that being the case, assumptions about rights to welfare or just about anything else would seem equally suspect.

It is worth bearing in mind that Japan’s Korean population was divested of its Japanese nationality by nothing more than a Ministry of Justice interpretation of the 1952 peace treaty — an interpretation that paid little heed to what effect that would have on the people effectively rendered stateless as a result. That was a different era, of course, but if push comes to shove in any dispute with the government, it is probably safe to expect that you will lose, and nothing in the Constitution will likely affect that outcome.

This should be obvious to anyone familiar with Japan’s system of immigration detention and deportation, which exists in an parallel dimension where due-process requirements and the constitutional protections against arrest, detention and punishment do not apply, because the deprivations of freedom and deportations are not punitive and the administrative process by which cases are resolved are not “trials.”

An Occupation-era ordinance that would have established a system of oversight through separate quasi-judicial commissions was never put into force, leaving the whole process comfortably within the control of the Ministry of Justice. In any case, by the logic of the Supreme Court decision mentioned above, those who are not in the country in accordance with the ICRRA may not be entitled to constitutional protections anyway.

Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/08/06/issues/think-youve-got-rights-foreigner-japan-well-complicated/
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COMMENT:  Well, this has been but one event in the death of the NJ communities by a thousand cuts (and the source of a number of smug comments by some saying “See, NJ really don’t belong in Japan, and if they want to, they should naturalize.”  As if it’s their fault for not doing so.  And as I’ve said before, that is no panacea; if you are a Visible Minority, you still will not receive equal treatment in Japanese society.)

But what I’d like to have clarified is Colin’s point about whether or not people (particularly non-citizen permanent residents) who pay taxes really have no rights to expect the benefits from The State.  Although Colin’s approach is strictly legalist (naturally), I would conjecture that they do (I have seen first-hand how foreigners are allowed to have much greater senses of entitlement here, for example, in the United States) or at least should.  But the relativists (who insist that Japan is no outlier in this regard; they so want to be right in their own minds that they will even support unequal treatment that affects them adversely) will not take Debito.org seriously even if I start citing laws from overseas.

So let me ask Debito.org Readers to assist me in doing a little research.  Let’s find some law journals and other academic research written by specialists that give comparative rights for non-citizen residents in an international light.  Here are two research questions, with research boundaries incorporated:

  • Are non-citizen residents (particularly permanent residents, as taxpayers) entitled to the same social welfare benefits (e.g., unemployment, child support, and other safety-net measures designed to  rescue citizens from destitution) in other developed countries?  (Let’s say the G8, or widen it out to the OECD if necessary.)  
  • Do guarantees of civil and human rights guaranteed in the national constitutions of developed countries also apply to “all people/residents”, including non-citizens, or are they strictly reserved for citizens, as they apparently are in Japan?

Note that we are not looking for absolute equality (that’s impossible, otherwise there would be no benefit to citizenship).  But simply put:  Do foreign residents receive the same guarantee against various social adversities elsewhere as a legally-enshrined human right, or not?

Please send us some links to some articles in the comments section, with pertinent excerpts/abstracts included.  Let’s spend some time researching this.  I’ll let this blog entry be the anchor site until next week, when my column comes out on how racial discrimination makes whole societies go crazy.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Yomiuri: TV shows to get foreign-language subtitles by 2020 for “foreign visitors” to Tokyo Olympics. Nice, but how about for NJ residents now?

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Hi Blog.  Here’s something a little less dramatic (but no less pesky and maybe even indicative of something unconscious) for a hot summer Sunday in Japan.  Article and comments courtesy of KM.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Hi Debito!  Here’s another indication that the government cares more about short-term visitors than about the foreigners who actually live here:

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TV shows to get foreign-language subtitles by 2020
July 22, 2014, The Yomiuri Shimbun, courtesy of KM
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001439680

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry will develop a system to show Japanese TV programs with subtitles in foreign languages, including English and Chinese, to provide a more comfortable viewing experience for foreign visitors, according to sources.

In response to the increasing number of visitors from overseas, the envisaged system will be launched by 2020, the year in which the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held, the sources said.

Behind the ministry’s decision were requests from foreign visitors for more foreign-language subtitles for domestic TV programs. The envisaged system will be offered for news programs related to visitors’ safety and security during their stay, as well as variety shows.

A TV station broadcasts a program in the original Japanese, then the contents are automatically translated by a system to produce the foreign-language subtitles. Finally, the subtitles are sent to TV screens via the Internet.

The ministry will form a promotional organization comprising broadcasting stations, IT firms, electronics companies, research institutes and others by the year-end. The organization is expected to begin trials in fiscal 2015.

The ministry will encourage the communications and IT industries to take part in offering translation and subtitle distribution services for the system. The promotional organization will be tasked with studying how the cost of translation services and distributing the subtitles should be covered.

ENDS

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KM:  I have a few thoughts about this:

  1. It probably would be nice to have more programing with English subtitles (and subtitles in other languages) but I’m a bit surprised that such a huge adjustment to daily programing in Japan would be made on behalf of those visiting short-term for the olympics. Of course, it would be open to anyone but the article (and a similar article in Japanese) makes it sound like the olympics and the comments of short-term visitors are primary motivations for the change.
  2. The article says that Japanese content will be “automatically translated by a system to produce the foreign-language subtitles.” Such subtitles might be intelligible for things like a weather forecast, but I can’t imagine them being of much use (except as something to laugh at — because of their poor quality) with variety programs.
  3. Instead of making a major adjustment like this to satisfy the whims of short-term visitors, perhaps the money to make this change could be spent to improve the quality of disaster information and disaster warning systems for people who actually live here.

 

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Japanese:

テレビに外国語の字幕、五輪までに実現…総務省
2014年07月21日 読売新聞
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/it/20140721-OYT1T50025.html

総務省は、テレビのニュース番組などに英語や中国語など外国語の字幕が表示されるよう取り組む方針だ。

東京五輪・パラリンピックが開かれる2020年までに表示が始まるようにする。増加する訪日外国人が、より快適に過ごせる環境を整備する狙いだ。

日本を訪れた外国人から、テレビ番組に外国語の字幕を増やしてほしいとの声が出ており、滞在中の安心・安全にかかわるニュースのほか、バラエティー番組などで対応することにした。

字幕は、インターネットと接続するテレビに表示する。放送局が番組を電波で流し、自動翻訳システムで外国語に変換した字幕をネット経由で画面に映す仕組みを想定している。年内に放送局やIT企業、家電メーカー、研究機関などによる推進組織を設立し、15年度から実証実験を始める。

ENDS